MANILA — Government should provide more support to the country’s small salt farmers, the Philippine Association of Salt Industry Networks said Friday.

Gerard Khonghun, the group’s president, told ANC’s Rundown that while there were some salt producers that went out of their way to upgrade their technology for iodization, some small salt producers could not catch up to changes.

“It’s not just technology or equipment or training, it also involves some change in distribution. Since it costs more you would have to have the consumer want to buy more expensive salt so that they could get proper iodine in their salt,” he said.

“I think this is where we need more support for the small salt farmers.”

The salt iodization law, passed in 1995, mandated the addition of iodine to salt to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders in the country.

But some senators slammed the law, saying it led to the deterioration of the industry.

“The law, instead of promoting, became a deterrent in the development of the local salt industry. It has neglected to develop new areas and invite new investors. It made all salt food grade. In 2021, it was reported that we only produced 7 percent of our salt requirements and imported 93 percent or 550,000 metric tons,” Sen. Cynthia Villar said.

To help producers who couldn’t put iodize in their salt, Khonghun said there was talk of putting up cooperatives that would help them in the iodization.

But for him, salt farmers must take initiative if they want to form cooperatives.

“These did not materialize. I think we can do better this time around,” he said. “They need to see the benefits of iodization not just for the public but also for their own business. More incentives in this area, and I think more direct assistance would be called for.”

Malacañang earlier said the Marcos administration is working to modernize the country’s salt industry and boost the production of salt.