SITE VISITS are under way for the proposed 22 fish centers across Mindanao, which will be connected to a common a digital platform that will serve as a direct link to the market.

In a statement on Friday, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) reported that three areas have so far been visited for the Mindanao Fish and Aquaculture Development (MINFAD) Program.

One is Panabo City in Davao del Norte, which has a mariculture park that is mainly used for bangus farming.

The others are Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur, and Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Davao Oriental, which held its first Fisheries and Aquaculture Summit last week, is positioning to be a key fish center in southeastern Mindanao, facing the Pacific Ocean.

The MINFAD fish centers are planned to each have post-harvest facilities, cold storage and processing and packing equipment.

“All of these Fish Centers will be interconnected through a digital platform which will monitor the volume of daily catch and the classification. The digital platform will serve as a virtual market which will identify where the catch can be marketed under the Mindanao Food Supply and Demand Map,” MinDA Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a statement.

MinDA, which will initially be handling the digital platform, has endorsed MINFAD as one of the key programs for funding under the Mindanao Rise Program with a P2.1-billion grant from the European Union.

The MINFAD Program aims to double Mindanao’s annual fisheries and aquaculture production from the current 2.1 million metric tons.

“In my travels to the remotest areas of the country, even when I was Agriculture Secretary, I saw the squandering of opportunities in the fisheries and aquaculture sector simply because of the lack of a simple ice-making facility and cold storage,” Mr. Piñol said. — Marifi S. Jara