Through the financial and technical assistance provided by DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the women-led Manhak Association in Looc, Romblon was able to build an organic blue crab fattening farm on their shores in February 2016. SLP provided skills training and cash for building the foot bridge and cottages which the members of the association built themselves; amounting to PhP525,741.00.

Brgy. Manhac, Looc is a coastal barangay, and 64% of its population are fisherfolks, with 53% of the women unemployed and dependent on their husband’s income.

Nine of the 10 members of Manhak Association, or Manggagawang Aktibo na Naglalayong Harapin ang Kinabukasan, are women including the President Luz Soriano. All of them are Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries and fisherfolks.

Manhak Association’s blue crab farm has 23 cages containing a maximum of 2,300 pieces or average of 250 kgs of blue crabs each, allowing them to earn PHP50,000 from each cage. The crabs are cultured organically, using scrap fish and left-over vegetables from households and fishermen, hence the cost of maintaining the farm is kept at the minimum.

The association is currently supplying 11 restaurants in Romblon and Boracay island, along with the local market. Because of the increasing demand for Manhac’s crabs and to sustain the farm’s production, BFAR will be developing a lying-in farm in Manhac which the association will manage as well. The members have also started serving cooked dishes in their farm’s receiving area, coming up with their own unique menu, to cater to walk-in customers. Because of these, the tourism office of Romblon has included Manhak Association’s crab farm as one of the major tourist destinations of the province.

Prior to the establishment of the crab farm, each of the members of the association earned as little as zero to PhP 100 in a day. Now, they earn a minimum of PhP225 per day, to as much as PhP2,000 per week.

Alita Gaito, one of Manhak Association’s members, was able to build a second floor for their house and support her daughter’s college education, through her income from the crab farm. “Magkaka-second floor na bahay namin. Ilang kilo na lang ng crabs yan, matatapos din,” she says, referring to her income from selling blue crabs.

Written by Ivon Claire Domingo, DSWD NPMO