“Number two, the number of species that you can stock on a per cubic meter of water space is thrice or more than tilapia and bangus. If you are growing pangasius in cages, a 30 to 50 cubic meter of space is going to be easy because fishermen in Vietnam are growing them at several times more and they still survive. If you can stock more fish per square cubic meter,the tonnage of the harvestable fish is going to be more and you can multiply it by the kilo and the price per kilo.
Number three. Vitarich is willing to buy your grown pangasius fish. We’re really developing the process of where to sell the fish just to prove the point that it can be sold and that it’s going to be feasible.”
Today, a two-centimeter pangasius fingerling is sold at 2.50 centavos each—that is, if someone is located within the Central Luzon area (price delivered). In other areas, breeders require a minimum volume of 50,000 fingerlings. Common sources come from Munoz, Nueva Ecija, Jala-Jala, Rizal and Apalit Pampanga. According to Angeles, a fisherman who is seriously pondering on going into pangasius farming should be able to spend around P30-40 on a fish kilo basis. “If we can buy it at probably a dollar, they can make money already. It’s not going to be something that they will lose their shirt in the process,” he quipped.
Growing pangasius, Angeles said, is far more easy than growing tilapia and bangus. This freshwater fish can be cultured in fishponds, concrete fish tanks, fish cages and fish pens. For earthen ponds, experts recommend around 1,600 sq. m or at least 400 sq.m. Suitable depth is about 1.5 to two meters. The fingerlings to be put in the pond must be based upon the fish’s healthiness (without wounds, abnormalities and no diseases) and should be approximately of the same size to avoid fighting for food. The stocking rate should be about 10-15 fish per sq.m. Food for feeding are pellets, trash fish (to include water plants and small animals such as insects and worms). Given the proper feeding and management, pangasius can grow to one to 1.5 kilos in five to six months time.
Some very important things to remember in pangsius production are the following: traceability of the production (from processing plant to hatchery and feedmill) and environment (site selection and production practices and sanitation). Farmers/fishermen should avoid using insecticides, antibiotics, waste water and leftover food discharge to pond, illegal chemicals, etc.
Meanwhile, as the growing number of fishermen are trying to raise this new agricultural rising star, the processed pangasius fillets are now sold at around Php220-Php270 per kilo. Angeles said the taste and texture of the fillet is very apt for a lot of recipes and menus and is also suited for the discriminating Pinoy palate. “This could make for a yummy sinigang. Remember that in the fillet process, the head and the belly are left out so these could be made into sinigang sa miso. The fish can also be fried and grilled. The skin can be made into chicharon. Some said the pangasius’ belly has a similarity to the taste of salmon—rich ana Creamy. Others say that the belly fat can be very good for sardines.”
Indeed, pangasius’ possibilities, according to Angeles, are endless:
“Would you believe that in Vietnam, the oil from the fish is being used for biodiesel? There are no trashy parts here because even those that you think could be thrown out could be converted into fish-meal. What really excites us is that the government and the private sector are also with us in helping promote this fish. Through the the intercession of BFAR’s Malcolm Sarmiento, Jr., Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and FRLD’s Angelito Sarmiento, we are officially launching this in Floridablanca, Pampanga. We all believe in the battlecry of the government to provide fish and rice for every Filipino table. So I’m urging our Pinoy farmers/ fishermen to raise pangasius.
Somebody said if coconut is known as the “tree of life,” we might as well call pangasius as the “fish of life.” I believe it to be so.”
author: Ronald G. Mangubar, Marid Digest