Former MNLF Members Export Blue Crab to the U.S.
The Regional Department of Labor and Employment office in Zamboanga in the Philippines says its aquaculture training program includes some 200 families of former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels in Siromon Island, East of Zamboanga City, in the province of Mindanao.
The MNLF is a Muslim separatist movement in the southern Philippines that has employed guerrilla tactics and violence in its campaign for the creation of an independent democratic, Islamic state.
Yahya Centi, the department's regional director, reported that the aquaculture training would enable participants to leverage their income from the fishing industry and compete in the global market.
Centi added that pristine water in Siromon Island is perfect for farming crustaceans. His office is designating Siromon Island to be the center of blue crab farming, which has the potential to fetch a good market globally.
Former MNLF members in Siromon have been involved in blue crab farming for several years, but their inexperience has resulted in crabs that do not meet market size. The Department of Labor hopes research will help the farmers increase their crab sizes. The crab farmers in Siromon Island sell their blue crab harvest to a local exporter who ships them to the U.S. market.
Meanwhile, USAID has successfully trained new fish farmers out of former MNLF members in the nearby Tawi Tawi province, also part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. USAID came in 1997 with its Livelihood Enhancement and Peace Program to provide training in crops and fish farming.
Over 7,500 farmers are now breeding grouper and mangrove snapper. Some even supply grouper to high-end restaurants in Manila and Hong Kong.