- POSTED: 27 Sep 2013 18:05
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Sardine makers in Zamboanga City are concerned about their future -- the ongoing standoff between government forces and rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front has put a dent on their production.
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines: After being shut down for three days, Columbus Seafoods Corporation's sardine canning factory in Zamboanga City is now able to operate 8 hours a day.
Production manager Gil Naranjo said: "Our production operation is severely affected. Before, we were operating 24 hours. But now we are just operating 8 hours a day. That's barely 30 per cent of our production capacity."
As the conflict drags on, the economy of Zamboanga City and the whole of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines is being held hostage.
With 80 to 85 per cent of the country's sardine processing and canning being done here, sardine manufacturers are now worried that they will not be able to cope with next year's orders.
While there is enough inventory until the end of the year, there are concerns that supplies for next year are running short, especially with the fishing season ending soon.
Mr Naranjo added: "If this situation continues, and we do not have a chance to operate to our full capacity, we are very worried that we will run out of stock -- earliest January next year."
90 per cent of Zamboanga's US$70 million sardine industry is consumed by the domestic market.
Sardine manufacturers in this city have been aiming to grow their export market, but with this current conflict, that may not happen just yet.
"We have a very promising export market because it's really growing. We are even formulating new products to add to our existing product lines. But this kind of opportunity will be lost if we cannot deliver what they are requesting from us," said Mr Naranjo.
Zamboanga produces at least 15 million cases of canned sardines per year, utilising 140,000 to 175,000 metric tons of raw materials. 13,000 metric tons of canned sardines, worth approximately US$16 million, are exported by the city every year.