Legarda bats for boosting salt industry in PH to promote sustainable livelihood, economic growth

May 4, 2023

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda expressed full support for revitalizing and further strengthening the Philippines’ salt industry for its potential as a significant driver of economic growth and income-generating opportunities for the Filipino people.

As an advocate for sustainable livelihood programs, Legarda pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1870 or an Act Strengthening and Revitalizing the Development of the Salt Industry in the Philippines which, according to her, will address the challenges and gaps of making the industry competitive in the local and international markets, as well as create more conducive jobs for salt farmers.

Being an archipelagic country, the possibilities of the salt industry for the Philippines’ overall economic performance are endless, but Legarda noted the dwindling of the sector, which is ‘on the brink of extinction.’

Over the past years, Legarda reported that the country imports around 550,000 metric tons of salt, equivalent to 93% of the nation’s salt requirement. According to the Philippine Association of Salt Industry Networks (PhilAsin), these numbers are expected to increase in the coming years because of the rapidly growing population.

“Salt is not just an important food commodity for us all. The industry has been an integral part of the Philippine economy because it sustains many Filipinos through countless employment opportunities that continue to shape communities. We must not turn a blind eye to this equally important aspect of our society,” Legarda conveyed, underscoring the importance of government support in this undertaking.

Antique, Legarda’s home province, is an ideal site for natural salt production, being situated along the sea coast. Aside from fishing, the ‘pangasin,’ or the art of salt-making, is an age-old tradition in the province and has been among the residents’ source of livelihood and income.

The industry further developed with the help of the Shared Services Facility of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through Republic Act No. 9501 or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME), principally sponsored and authored by Legarda.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the salt industry in the province was significantly affected.

To boost local salt production, the four-term senator emphasized providing substantial and attractive incentives to investors, which can also help reduce the country’s dependence on importation.

Legarda added that salt farmers should be given priority through financial and technical assistance that can promote sustainable salt production. These can be through machines, new technologies, and elaborated research and development studies to identify further and support the industry’s changing needs.

Likewise, more improved policies should be considered, as well as a diverse collaboration between government agencies and stakeholders that will shepherd the formulation and implementation of the Philippine Salt Industry Development Roadmap.

“As legislators, the future of the salt industry lies in our hands. We should all consider this a shared aspiration and commitment to act tirelessly to save what’s left of the industry. We will all benefit from this sector’s potential for our nation’s inclusive growth,” Legarda affirmed. (end)