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Legarda bats for salt industry boost

SAN JOSE, Antique (PIA) -- Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda expressed full support in 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.

In a press release, she emphasized that 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.”

"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,” she said.

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.

Antique, known to be 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 (MSMEs), principally sponsored and authored by Legarda.

The four-term senator emphasized the provision of substantial and attractive incentives to investors, which can also help reduce the country's dependence on importation.

Likewise, this also aims to boost local salt production and the salt industry in the province generally, which was significantly affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legarda added that salt farmers should be given priority through financial and technical assistance that can promote sustainable salt production. These can be in the form of machines, new technologies, and elaborated research and development studies, to further identify and support the industry's changing needs. (AGP/OSLL/PIA-Antique)

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