A HOUSE committee has approved a substitute bill outlining plans to revive the salt industry.

The House Agriculture and Food committee approved on Thursday the proposed Philippine Salt Industry Development Act, which seeks to modernize domestic salt production after a drastic decline in output due to urbanization, population growth, and competition from imports.

KABAYAN Party-list Representative Ron P. Salo, who chaired the technical working group that fine-tuned the bill, said the measure goes beyond regulation and compliance with industry standards but heralds a “major paradigm shift” in policy for the salt industry.

“Taking into consideration the current state of the salt industry, this bill takes a more proactive and developmental approach to promote the growth and competitiveness of the industry,” Mr. Salo told the committee.

The measure calls for the drafting of a Philippine Salt Industry Development Roadmap (PSIDR), a five-year short-, medium-, and long-term development plan which will lay down the needed programs to increase salt production and make the Philippines a net exporter of salt.

The PSIDR also seeks to expand the number of salt-producing areas and promote public and private investment in industry development programs.

The roadmap will also categorize salt producing areas into artisanal, gourmet, and iodized salt centers, while developing salt ecotourism.

The measure also creates a salt industry development council chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and co-chaired by the Secretary of Trade.

The bill will also classify salt as an agricultural product, giving the Department of Agriculture (DA) jurisdiction over the industry. It is currently overseen by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Applications for salt farm leases will now be handled by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

“By classifying salt as an agricultural product and transferring the administration of the salt industry to the DA, we can provide better support to our salt farmers and producers,” Mr. Salo said.

The bill gives salt farmers and processors priority access to credit and guarantee schemes of government financial institutions. The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. will also provide coverage for salt development and equipment. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz