MANILA MARCH 17, 2007 (STAR) By Pinky PE Tobiano, ACS AOAC - Fish be with you...A very timely article for this season of Lent. Every Friday, most Filipinos refrain from eating meat as a sign of sacrifice for the coming Lenten season. Most Filipinos eat fish or vegetables in this season.

Fisheries overview

Agriculture recorded a 3.88 percent growth in 2006 despite the effects of typhoon Paeng, Queenie, Reming and Seniang. The fishery subsector registered the biggest output gain at 6.31 percent. Aquaculture production grew by 10.42 percent. Output of municipal fisheries expanded by 9.07 percent. However, the commercial fisheries production declined by 4.63 percent. (Bureau of Agriculture statistics)

BFAR’S accomplishment

BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento has achieved several noticeable changes to hurdle the challenges in the fisheries department. Sarmiento’s objective is working hand in hand with Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap and with President Arroyo’s program for the country. Sarmiento modernized and socially equitized agriculture and fishery support services for increased productivity and income. Sarmiento was able to achieve these by employing fish production and support services i.e., fish seed production and distribution, distribution of fishing gears/paraphernalia, input assistance, establishment of seaweed nurseries, maintenance of bangus and tilapia central and satellite hatcheries, operations of quality assurance laboratories to address existing problems on quality assurance program on fish export.

A young gun

TGA (Tayag-Goquingco Aquaculture) is headed by a young, 34 year-old entrepreneur, Rene Tayag. TGA was established in 2002 to complete the vertical integration of TGA Farms Inc., a hatchery and grow-out facility, and Feedworld Inc., a manufacturer of aqua feeds. As a primary stakeholder in the tilapia industry, TGA’s thrust is on business development with tilapia farmers, initiating joint ventures to utilize marginalized areas and to increase tilapia production in a sustainable manner. Their organization is committed to supply both local and international markets with quality fish products at competitive and stable prices while adhering to the principles of food safety.

From seed to plate

Very few companies in Asia have completed vertical integration in terms of aquaculture as compared to Europe and America. TGA has the power to control cost in every aspect of production, access in developing new breeds of tilapia (genetic engineering), developing the highest quality of feed and traceability. The company has the means to ensure that the tilapia produced is safe for human consumption and is of highest quality.

TGA tilapia are only fed with the feeds that Feedworld produces. Feedworld is one of the companies that Tayag’s group has taken over and is one of the leading fish feed manufacturers in the country. Feedworld has a very competent team of aqua nutritionists headed by Dr. Manny Manalang. Feedworld does not use chloramphenicol nor nitrofurans in their feeds which are very carcinogenic when fed to the tilapia after which will be eaten by the consumers. Tayag is very socio and morally conscious when it comes to the feeds they produce. He does not allow his nutritionists to take short cuts to cut down cost but he is committed to give only the best high protein aqua feeds to his growers. Feedworld only uses BASF vitamins (biggest German vitamin producer) and minerals for their rations. And Feedworld has an internal laboratory to monitor the proximate analysis of his feeds. But Tayag is not satisfied with this, he tapped the services of Qualibet Testing Services to conduct proficiency testing with their company. According to Tayag, it is not enough that he relies on his own internal results, he needs a strategic and reliable third party testing facility, who is equally committed to food safety as his company. Tayag is very proud of this tandem. And he is working hard to be accredited by Qualibet to use its seal of excellence in all their export products. Tayag believes that this seal of excellence will enable them to be easily accepted by the export market. He doesn’t mind spending a little more for quality assurance because this will enable him to have more market share and peace of mind.

Government accreditation

TGA Foods is HACCP certified and accredited by the Bureau of Animal Industry and the BFAR. TGA fish produce are being closely monitored by Qualibet testing services for Salmonella, E. Coli and S. aureus contents. With its commitment to total consumer safety, TGA has tapped Qualibet Testing services to conduct regular seminars on proper food handling and safety for their personnel. TGA Foods is located inside the Clark Special Economic Zone.

Export market

TGA Foods has already been exporting to the US market. Tayag has been very happy that BFAR, especially director Remy Ongtangco has been very supportive to start up companies like TGA Foods. The brand name of their tilapia fillet (St. Peter’s fish or Cherry Snapper) is Nile Pacific. As of the moment, you can find Nile Pacific Cherry Snapper fillets in various groceries in the country.


It is Tayag’s vision to see Filipino Nile Pacific Cherry Snapper in supermarkets in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Middle Eastern countries. The country truly needs young guns like Tayag, who promotes the Filipino produce abroad.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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