IMPROVING LIVES THRU FISH ENTERPRISE. “Malaki ang naitutulong ng DENR. Nagkaroon ng trabaho ang mga kababaihan at nadagdagan ang aming kita galing sa tinapa,” enthused Nolita P. Cortes, president of the Bilai-Ikan Association (BIA) that manufactures fish products in Brgy. Dimapula, Divilacan in Isabela.
The people’s organization (PO) was established in 2017 through the implementation of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
BIA auditor Shierra dela Torre shared: “Noong kaka-establish palang ng PO namin, napakalimitado ng mundo namin kasi ang meron lang po kami ay ‘yong membership fee. Napakaliit po no’n sa page-establish ng business. Pero laking pasasalamat po namin dahil may suportang binigay ang DENR,” referring to the financial assistance granted to them by the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau in 2018.
The P685 thousand monetary grant was provided thru the Biodiversity-Friendly Social Enterprise (BDFE) component of CMEMP. It was used to purchase equipment and tools needed for their fish processing enterprise, as well as to improve the One Town, One Product fish processing center in Brgy. Dimapula.
“Dahil sa grant, DOLE-registered at fully-established na po ang BIA. Unti-unti na rin po kaming nakakapag-operate,” dela Torre added.
Presently, the PO has already started exporting its goods in Isabela province and Tuguegarao City in Cagayan with smoked fish (tinapa) and fish paste (bagoong) as their primary products.
Aside from the financial assistance, the PO members were also provided with trainings and orientation on book-keeping, value chain analysis and business planning as part of their social preparation and in order to make them understand the hows in organizing and developing an enterprise. These were conducted in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
To advocate marine protection and conservation in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park while gaining from its bounty, BIA members were also made aware of sustainable harvesting of resources.
Since the coastal town is known for its abundant ‘ikan’ or fish, Cherish June Holongbayan of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Palanan believes that the association possesses potential in bringing prosperity in the geographically-isolated coastal area which will soon open for ecotourism activities.
Holongbayan said the CENRO and the Local Government Unit of Divilacan are trying to take the opportunity of linking BIA and its products with the opening of ecotourism in the area.
“We are also trying to unfold our vision on making them known in the whole province three years from now,” Holongbayan ended. #