Tilanggit For Local And Export Markets
An enterprising couple have put up the country’s first commercial Tilanggit processing plant, currently processing 200 kilos of baby tilapia for the local and export markets.
They are Victor and Susan Mendoza who put up Keño Foods last year in Brgy. Malamig, Bustos, Bulacan. The processing plant is a state-of-the-art facility largely financed with a P14-million interest-free loan from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), thanks to the assistance of former Agriculture Sec. Arthur C. Yap and the current Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla.
The building where the fish are prepared before drying is air-conditioned, tiled, and the working tables and sinks are all made of stainless steel. Inside is a holding tank for the live tilapia and a walk-in chiller where the processed tilapia are placed before they are brought to the Multi-Commodity Solar Tunnel Dryer (MCSTD) developed by the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension. This is an efficient dryer that uses heat from the sun, drying the fish to seven percent moisture content in seven to eight hours.
The product which carries the brand Tilapia Crunch is superior. It is lightly salted so that it is preferred by many consumers over the often salty danggit. They only use 300 grams of rock salt for brining 200 kilos of tilapia. When fried golden brown in less than a minute, Tilapia Crunch is really crunchy. That is why it is increasingly becoming popular with people who are looking for quality. Because the product is vacuum-packed it has a much longer shelf life than dried fish not similarly packaged.
Currently, Tilapia Crunch is sold through outlets near upscale subdivisions in Metro Manila. One lady who was so glad she came to know about Tilapia Crunch is Mrs. Fely S. Gupit of Quezon City. After tasting it for the first time, she immediately bought all the stocks of a distributor not far from where she lives. She said she intended to gift each one of the members of her breakfast club with a pack of Tilapia Crunch. Another lady who was also impressed is Maripaz Godinez, also of Quezon City. After tasting the same, she said she will be sending some to her son in Ohio.
Victor said that the main target is really the overseas Filipino workers wherever they may be found.
The first shipment abroad was made very recently to a distributor of oriental foods in Calgary, Canada. Surely, Victor said, the Filipinos abroad will be glad to have access to such a food item that is truly Filipino.
In the meantime, the Mendozas are growing all the baby tilapia that they need in their own ponds just around the processing plant. However, as soon as exports gain momentum, Victor says he will not only increase the number of his ponds, he will also ask other farmers to grow baby tilapia for him.
Growing baby tilapia has its advantages. For one, the growing period is only two months so a farmer can make five croppings per year. Mortality is less, and the fish also eat less feeds.
By Max Prudencio
Marine fish are usually plentiful during summer, so it’s best for fisherfolk to take advantage of this seasonal rise in marine production to earn extra cash.
One good business is fish processing. There are, for instance, abundant tulingan, chabita, dilis, alamang, espada, dalagang bukid, galunggong, flying fish, and dorado in the market, and these can be made into value-added products.
The Rural Improvement Club of Barangay Centro in the town of Sta. Ana, Cagayan, is doing this already. The group processes cheap fish like parrot fish or mulmol and shark into longganisa, lumpiang shanghai and nuggets, and markets these at their Barangay Bagsakan Center, which happens to have been adjudged as the Best Bagsakan Center for 2009.
They sell their products at P45 to P60 per 250 grams and at P90 to P120 per 500 grams. “Thanks to the fish processing training and equipment from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), we were able to add another hit product in our bagsakan center,” says its president Beniflor Guittap.
The employees’ cooperative of BFAR Region II also makes value-added fish products. They sell tilapia longganisa, tocino, fish lumpia and rolls.
What’s good about fish processing, says BFAR Region II fish processing expert Proserfina Reyno, is that there is no waste at all. The viscera can be turned into fish paste, the bones into fish powder, and the skin into chicharon. She adds that the products are prepared using readily available equipment, so these are ideal for small-scale livelihood ventures. And with proper handling and storage, refrigerated products can last for a week and frozen products for one month.
“The abundance of marine fishes during summer and the steady supply of farmed fishes like tilapia and bangus can be a great opportunity for RICs to engage in value-adding, aside from traditional processing method like drying, smoking and fermenting,” Reyno said.
By Zac B. Sarian