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Tilapia ideal pandemic food

THE Nile tilapia promotes food security amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Tilapia is a hardy fish, a fast grower, and is preferred by Filipinos,” said Eduardo V. Manalili, director of the Inland Aquatic Resources Research Division of the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DoST-PCAARRD).

Manalili added that what we need now, especially this pandemic, is food for poor households and tilapia is a great commodity to our culture.

“We introduced tilapia because it’s easy to breed and easy to grow and now it’s the second most important fish next to milkfish,” said academician Rafael D. Guerrero III, a member of the Agricultural Sciences Division of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Philippines.

The tilapia industry provides valuable income and an affordable source of animal protein for the growing population, particularly those that depend on agriculture and fishing for livelihood. A June 2020 World Bank report states that, although poverty among farmers and fisherfolk has fallen over time, it remains far higher than the national average, and nearly three times greater than poverty among urban households.

Apart from the Nile tilapia, common carp and mudfish round out the top three most important commercially caught freshwater fishes in 2017 with a value of over P3 billion pesos, according to 2018 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). All three species are introduced (or evolved in one environment and then introduced by humans into another), with the Nile tilapia accounting for half of the total value.