Wednesday, February 28Food Security Matters

DA Explores Seaweed as Affordable Livestock Feed

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in the Philippines is embarking on an innovative initiative to reduce the cost of meat production by introducing processed seaweed as a cost-effective alternative fodder for livestock and other farm animals. With the goal of enhancing food security, curbing inflation, and promoting sustainable agriculture, the DA’s novel approach aims to tap into the abundant resource of seaweed in the country.

DA Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano recently highlighted the untapped potential of seaweed as a valuable and affordable source of animal feed. The Philippines’ extensive coastline and marine resources provide an ideal environment for the cultivation and harvest of this underutilized resource.

seaweed as animal food
Seaweed as animal feed

Seaweed is known for its versatility and nutritional benefits, making it a promising alternative to conventional animal feeds like corn. Savellano stressed that developing cost-effective animal feed from seaweed would not only benefit livestock farmers but also contribute to stabilizing food prices for consumers, thereby mitigating the ongoing inflationary pressures.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), headline inflation in the Philippines climbed to 6.1 percent year-on-year in September from 5.3 percent year-on-year in August. The main driver of this inflation has been the increasing cost of food, prompting the government to explore innovative approaches to address the issue.

“Seaweed is in abundance in the Philippines’ coastal waters. Every day, tons of it get washed up on our beaches, but people don’t realize its potential usefulness. It is a viable alternative to corn and other traditional animal feeds,” said Savellano in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

To facilitate the exploration of seaweed as a livestock feed, the DA has enlisted the expertise of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) country representative, Lionil Henri Valentin Dabbadie. The FAO will conduct a feasibility study to assess the industrial-scale processing of seaweed into animal feed.

Savellano serves as an overseeing official for the DA’s livestock and poultry feeds development program, which aims to provide solutions to the growing challenges faced by the agriculture and livestock sectors.

Seaweed holds significant promise as a sustainable source of essential macronutrients and micronutrients for animal feed. Additionally, it provides a rich source of antioxidants, which can enhance the longevity of animals and potentially reduce the risk of infections. By improving the immune status of livestock, decreasing microbial loads in the digestive tract, and increasing the nutritional content of meat and eggs, seaweed can significantly enhance the overall quality of food products.

The integration of seaweed into livestock diets aligns with the three key directives issued by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to various units of the DA. These directives include increasing food production fivefold, making food more affordable to consumers, and ensuring that food producers can achieve reasonable returns on their investments.

As the country strives to increase food production to meet the demands of its growing population, seaweed presents an environmentally friendly solution. Seaweed cultivation and harvesting have relatively low environmental impacts compared to traditional animal feed sources like corn, which often require substantial land and water resources. Moreover, seaweed’s abundance in coastal areas provides an opportunity for local communities to engage in seaweed farming, creating jobs and supporting sustainable livelihoods.

The introduction of seaweed as an alternative livestock feed has the potential to transform the Philippines’ agricultural landscape. By harnessing the abundant marine resources and promoting sustainable practices, the DA aims to not only address the rising costs of meat production but also contribute to food security and economic stability in the country.

Incorporating seaweed into animal feed formulations represents a significant step toward achieving the government’s goals of ensuring affordable food for all and supporting the agricultural sector. The FAO’s forthcoming feasibility study will play a pivotal role in advancing this initiative and unlocking the vast potential of seaweed as a sustainable and cost-effective solution to feed livestock and poultry, ultimately benefiting both farmers and consumers.

As the DA and FAO collaborate on this pioneering venture, the Philippines is poised to strengthen its position as an innovative leader in agriculture and a champion of sustainable and affordable food production. The utilization of seaweed as a key component in livestock feed offers a promising solution to the country’s current economic and agricultural challenges, while also addressing long-term environmental concerns related to traditional feed sources. – PNA

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