COLD STORAGE. A fish vendor sells various fish during the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita at the compound of the Provincial Agriculture Office in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte province on April 20, 2023. A fishery cold storage facility will soon be set up in the province to prevent spoilage. (File photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY–At least two cold storage facilities meant to reduce post-harvest losses due to spoilage will be set up in this city and in nearby Sarrat town to benefit tomato growers and fishery associations here.

Engineer Ma. Teresa Bacnat, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Agriculture Office, confirmed this on Thursday following the successful bidding of the PHP44 million worth of tomato storage facility expected to start construction next month.

“This is funded by the World Bank with a counterpart from the Department of Agriculture,” said Bacnat in a media interview.

She said the facility will be put up in Barangay San Joaquin in Sarrat town and this will be managed by the San Joaquin Multi-purpose Cooperative, a multi-awarded outstanding cooperative in the province.

Meanwhile, a fishery cold storage facility will also be set up within the compound of the Provincial Agriculture Office in Barangay 2, Gomburza Street in this city.

Bacnat said the final bidding for the fishery cold storage facility worth PHP20 million has been set for next week and the project is funded under the DA.

To address the decline of fishery production and post-harvest losses due to spoilage, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has earlier directed concerned government agencies to help farmers and fishers to set up cold storage facilities in various parts of the country where it is needed most.

According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), fish spoilage is between 25 to 40 percent due to the lack of post-harvest equipment like blast freezers, ice-making machines, and facilities like cold storage warehouses and fish landing sites.

In Ilocos Norte, the provincial government has been urging rice farmers to shift to planting high-value commercial crops where the demand is higher.

Aside from the continuing distribution of farm machinery and various agriculture inputs, the Ilocos Norte government also provides marketing assistance to farmers by partnering with various local government units outside the province through its Producer-to-Consumer program. (PNA)