Metro Manila, Philippines— The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will collaborate with other government agencies to strengthen the country’s salt industry.

In a statement released on Sunday, the DA said it will work closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to improve local salt production in line with Republic Act 8172 or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN).

This comes as the sector “failed to adapt” to challenges resulting from climate change, food safety standards and quality requirements, tariff reduction, and mandatory iodization imposed by RA 8172, said the DA.

“Under the ASIN law, the DENR, along with other appropriate government agencies shall identify areas that are suitable for use as salt farms with the purpose of protecting such areas from environmental risks to ensure sustainability of iodized salt production,” the DA said.

The DTI, meanwhile, is mandated to assist and support local salt producers and manufacturers in upgrading production technologies to also include iodization.

This can be done by “helping them obtain soft loans and financial assistance for the procurement of salt iodization machines, packaging equipment and technology and fortificant; and by ensuring systematic distribution of the iodized salt in the market,” according to the DA.

The country has been importing 93% of its salt requirement, according to the DA. The agency calls this “unfortunate” given that the country has 36,000 kilometers of shoreline.

The DA cited as factors to the “decline” in salt production, the low quality control and stunted product improvement. It also mentioned limited development, which includes lack of innovation and interventions along with low enterprise and investment opportunities.

The DA will be implementing measures to boost production and to ensure requirements of commercial and industry users are met. These include various research and development activities and technical assistance for marginal and artisanal salt makers under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ leadership, it said.

“DA will also look into the expansion of production areas, and development of technologies including evaporation system and the use of various machineries to accelerate the production of salt,” said the statement, which also assured the availability of processing, packaging, and value adding facilities to marginal salt makers under a co-sharing deal.