A group of employees from Cagdianao Mining Corp. harvested hundreds of kilograms of bangus as the province of Dinagat Islands marked the devastation wrought by typhoon Odette exactly a year ago.
A people’s organization―Valencia Regular-Seasonal Workers Association―composed of employees of CMC, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp., collaborated with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Labor and Employment to embark on a fish farming project for extra income for employees.
BFAR provided the trainings, DOLE contributed the farm inputs and CMC gave logistical and operational funds including the cover for the cost of the Norwegian cage, estimated at P800,000 including accessories, which was sourced through the mining company’s yearly Social Development and Management Program budget.
“This project was stalled, first because of the pandemic, and then when Odette destroyed the cage and the fish nets, so this is our first partial harvest since and interestingly on the anniversary of Odette,” said Lorenzo Cuares Jr., president of VARSWA.
VARSWA has about 50 members, all regular-seasonal employees of CMC. The mining company assisted in forming this people’s organization and provided seed capital.
For VARSWA members, bangus farming is a natural choice as the inland coastal waterway provides the best condition for cage culture and, according to BFAR, suitable for bangus farming as to water quality and that there are no strong waves because of the surrounding mountains.
Cuares said they were expecting to account at least 3,000 kilos of bangus in this particular harvest from just one cage. He said the members of VARSWA would get a 70-percent dividend share out of their net income which they would divide equally. The bangus sell between P180 to P220 per kilo depending on size.
“We will each earn a little from this harvest after all the expenses are accounted for, this kind of income is not enough as a main source of livelihood but a very good and a welcome extra income,” he adds.
Sherrie Ann Cardoniga, enterprise development and livelihood coordinator at the Community Relations Department, said the role of CMC is to guide the members of VARSWA so that they efficiently manage the project until it becomes sustainable that they run it themselves without intervention from the mining company, which is the essence of the SDMP programs.
“There are factors and principles the members have to learn including efficient business management and, most importantly, protection of the environment for sustainability as they take advantage of the natural resources available to them,” Cardoniga said.
“We know that to earn bigger we need to expand our production like add the quantity of our fingerlings, but we are consulting the technical experts on how to do so without adversely impacting the environment and to ensure that this livelihood becomes truly sustainable,” Cuares said.