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THE country's second agro-industrial business corridor for freshwater aquaculture and urban farming will soon be established in Taguig, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

Following the first in New Clark City where the National Seed Technology Park will rise in partnership with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the second agro-industrial hub will be pursued in partnership with the city government and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano and LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina forged an agreement on July 20, 2021, commencing the 10-year project with an initial funding of P300 million.

"We are privileged to partner with the LLDA and [the] City of Taguig for this freshwater aquaculture park and urban farming project that will provide Metro Manila consumers with adequate and reasonably priced food, particularly bangus (milkfish) and tilapia, including mushrooms and vegetables," Dar said during the project's memorandum of agreement signing and groundbreaking ceremony.

"We envision the Taguig ABC, along with the nearby Food Terminal Inc., as part of the agri-industrial and food market hub that will serve the southeast quadrant of Metro Manila," he added.

Under the joint project, the LLDA will provide two hectares of land along C-6 where several facilities will be constructed and an adjacent 15-hectare lakeshore area where the aquaculture park will be developed and opened to cooperatives and private enterprises.

Also involved in the Taguig project are four agencies of the Agriculture department, namely the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

Specifically, the BFAR will provide technical assistance and inputs, including bangus, tilapia, shrimp and ayungin fingerlings, for the floating fish cages that will be installed at the 15-hectare aquaculture park while the PFDA will construct a fish landing wharf or jetty with warehouse and cold storage facility.

Also, the BPI will establish a mushroom button production facility and an integrated commercial bamboo project while the BSWM will put up a water hyacinth composting facility to support urban farming and a bamboo oxygen park to promote sustainable production and outdoor recreation.

Relatedly, the BFAR will also establish a satellite office in the project site to provide technical assistance, conduct training and help organize and cluster existing fisherfolk organizations.

During the event, Dar also suggested the establishment of a fish and food market near the Taguig ABC where fisherfolk could directly sell their harvest to institutional buyers and consumers.

Once the facilities are completed, the Taguig City government will manage and maintain the agro-industrial hub, and ensure its sustainable operation for the 10-year duration of the project.

"While we maintain a sustainable environment in the Laguna Lake, this Taguig agro-industrial hub could provide part of the food requirements of Metro Manila. Hence, for this project, we have to do a balancing act. We need to produce enough food and see to it that fishing cages must be properly laid out so these will not contribute to the pollution of the lake," Dar said.