The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) recently approved a P4.1 M grant to determine the best strain of tilapia suited for the cold climate of the Cordilleras. In spite of the culture of tilapia in “fish terraces,” the Cordilleras is faced with losses in tilapia production because the cool climate does not suit conditions for growing this warm water species.
The use of genetically improved strains, however, offers prospects for better performance during culture. PCAARRD is thus, supporting a project on “Sustainable tilapia culture amidst challenges posed by climate change” under the leadership of Dr. Ruth Diego of the Benguet State University (BSU). The project aims to evaluate and identify the best performing strain of Nile tilapia under the cool climate in Benguet, Ifugao, and Kalinga Mountain Province. The four strains, namely (Genetically Enhanced Tilapia with Excellent Qualities (GET-EXCEL), Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), Freshwater Aquaculture Center Selected Tilapia (FAST), and a locally grown tilapia will be grown in ponds during the wet and dry seasons in these areas.
The Ifugao State University (IfSU) and the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) are cooperating with the BSU to conduct the field trials. Dr. Diego has teamed up with Dr. Rene Pinkihan and Dr. Epiphania B. Maquilang of IfU and MPSPC, respectively for these trials. The project will be implemented for a period of one and a half years.
The level of fish sufficiency in the Cordilleras is estimated to be only 8.0%. The annual per capita fish consumption at 28.0 kg is met largely by fish supply from other provinces such as Pampanga and Batangas. Increased production of tiapia is expected to help bridge the supply-demand gap for fish and fishery products in the region.