Written by Kate Coderes (SLP PDO)
Photo by Eunice Ermino (SLP PDO)
Taytay, Palawan–Felma Aurello, a mother of eight from a small coastal village called Pamantolon, recalls how her husband conquered his fear of the waters when they were still starting out as seaweed farmers. A couple of years ago, Felma and her husband Pedro farmed seaweed for additional income, but in a limited capacity. Like the other families in the village, they harvested seaweeds individually, and sold them to local consolidators at a low price.
With the assistance of the Sustainable Livelihood Program, Coral Triangle Initiative and the Local Government of Taytay, Felma, together with 119 other program participants in Pamantolon, received training on seaweed culture system, seaweed drying, packing and marketing, and coastal resource management. These initiatives allowed them to realize that they could achieve greater productivity and become consolidators themselves if they pooled their resources and worked together as a community. During their first harvest in 2013, the federated seaweed farmers of Pamantolon were able to sell 10,000 kg of dried seaweeds, earning at least Php 1,000.00 per household. As of the first quarter of 2015, their membership grew to 737 farmers with a production rate of 53,575 kg of dried seaweeds and 10,650 kg of fresh seaweeds.
Given the promising demand for seaweeds in the municipality, Felma is now able to earn extra income to support the education and health of her eight children, bringing them a step closer towards securing a brighter future.