GPF Foundation-Philippines in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) organized a four-day workshop for 65 educators, farmers and fisher folks from July 19-22, 2011, at BFAR Regional Fishermen's Training Center in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Mindanao.
The “Technical Experts and Farmers’ Training on Aquaculture” included Christian and Muslim participants and was aimed primarily at providing trainees with skills in entrepreneurship, aquaculture economics, and farm management.
The project is part of GPF Philippine's Harvest of Hope initiative launched in 2009, which includes agricultural development and cooperation, as well as peace-building methods in a multi-cultural environment.
The training aimed to establish aquaculture technology outreach projects and promote the adoption of new technologies for target aquaculture species in Mindanao. The first three days of the workshop focused on actual demonstrations of new technologies in fisheries, such as Culture of Giant African Catfish in Fishponds, Solar Salt Making, Fish and Taro Integrated Farming, Catfish Culture in 14-D Condo Model, Azolla / Moina Culture, Skills Enhancement on Bangus (Milkfish) Processing and Fish Processing.
On the last day, a study visit was organized to the actual project site at La Paz National High School, where the fish condos for the ‘School Inside the Fish’ (SIFISH) project site is located. SIFISH is designed to raise catfish and was originally initiated by the La Paz National High School Parents-Teachers Association as an aquaculture project for replication in the community. Aside from the SIFISH project, La Paz National High School will be the future site for Solar Salt Production and Catfish Hatchery that the participants were trained on during the workshop.
More than a follow-up of the 2010 Train the Trainers project, the Technical Experts and Farmers Training in Aquaculture opens opportunities for livelihoods for all concerned, especially those who had participated from the La Paz Resettlement Area. It also aligns with the Community-Driven Development model that was earlier presented by Mr. Bienvenido Emmanuel Marquez, National Director of Global Peace Connect- Philippines.
SIFISH Cooperative members and La Paz Resettlement Area community members who attended the workshop now have the technology to go beyond the fish-condo concept to include post-harvest processing and integrated farming techniques. Trainers from BFAR- Regional Fishermen’s Training Center, moreover, were extensively trained on how to assist the fisher folks and farmers who would be implementing the action plans they had agreed upon at the end of the workshop.
During the Technical Training, the La Paz community sent representatives from the National High School student body to lead the SIFISH project expansion for the students and youth. Some out-of-school youth who were also recipients of GPF Philippines-accredited Alternative Learning System (ALS) also received training in preparation for their livelihood program which they can take after earning their high school diploma. SIFISH has also become a project for ALS learners as identified by La Paz High School.
In addition to the SIFISH project, La Paz High School will also soon be a pioneer site for Solar Salt Production as supported by BFAR, since the area is near the gulf. The project will commence around November, after the rainy season.
The concept of Integrated Farming System introduced to La Paz National High School early this year is currently applied within the school grounds. Not only is the water waste extracted by the compressor in the fish condo used as an organic fertilizer in the school vegetable garden, but the compressor is also utilized for the school’s micro vulcanizing venture, giving an additional source of income in return. With continuous positive results, the project could generate income to capitalize livelihood projects in La Paz Resettlement Area, a community of Muslims, Christians and indigenous people.