Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) wants to reduce the dependence of local canned sardines makers on imported tomato paste and sauce coming from China by re-aligning the government agency’s massive vegetable development program, which will now prioritize tomato production.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Emmanuel Piñol (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a statement, MinDA Chair Emmanuel Piñol said MinDA’s Vegetable Derby Program in the Zamboanga Peninsula will now focus on the production of tomatoes in order to supply the 20,000 metric ton (MT) of paste and sauce requirements of sardines factories in Zamboanga every year.

This “twist”, said the former secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), came after his consultation with the leader of the sardines-making group based in Zamboanga City.

In a meeting, Jaydrick Yap, president of the Southern Philippines Deep Sea Fishing Association, Inc. (SoPhil), told Piñol that Mindanao’s sardines industry requires about 20,000 MT of tomato paste and sauce every year.

The volume represents the requirements of 10 huge sardines factories estimated at 100 containers of 20 tons for each company. These are all imported from China with a combined value of P700 million.

The amount does not include the cost of shipping and handling from China to Zamboanga City estimated at P60,000 per 20TEU container, Yap told Piñol.

SoPhil members used to buy locally processed tomato paste and sauce from as far as Ilocos but the farmers could not produce the quality that the sardines makers need.

Likewise, tomato farmers in Luzon and Mindanao have long been complaining of problems they face in terms of marketing their produce during peak harvest season, with many of them dumping tomatoes by the roadside to protest the lack of government support.

“The production of local tomato paste and sauce could address this problem and even absorb a bigger volume of production,” Piñol said.

All that is needed, he said, is to plant the tomato variety ideal for sauce and paste production and a modern facility to process the tomatoes.

Moving forward, Piñol said he is now planning to get in touch with General Santos City-based logistics businessman Rene Pamintuan, who earlier informed him about companies that could provide the equipment and technology for the processing of quality tomato and chili paste.

“He proposed that tomato and chili paste processing facilities should be established near the fish processing centers of Zamboanga City and General Santos City,” Piñol further said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/08/18/minda-to-boost-tomato-output-to-meet-demand-of-canned-sardines-makers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=minda-to-boost-tomato-output-to-meet-demand-of-canned-sardines-makers)