UPLB-BIOTECH’s Probiotics for Aquaculture are a fish farmer’s best friend

| Written by Padayon UP

Known as good bacteria, probiotics have been proven beneficial to human health, the agriculture and fisheries, and various industries.

A probiotics technology developed by the UPLB-National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (UPLB-BIOTECH) has been helping fish farmers in Nueva Vizcaya improve and increase their yield.

Eliazar B. De Guzman, a farmer-businessman in the province, is now reaping the results of almost five years of continuous use of the Probiotics for Aquaculture in his fish farm. From 500 bags of fish feed per hectare of pond, De Guzman now only uses 400 bags, thanks to the technology’s efficacy.

He recounted that harvest at his 3.5-ha tilapia hatchery in Brgy. Ibung significantly improved after he began using the probiotics in 2017. “Our main problem here was the high mortality rate. The probiotics enable fish fingerlings to survive. When the survival rate is high, harvest also increases. Normally without probiotics, our yield is just around 5,000 kg, compared to 7,500 kg with probiotics,” De Guzman said.

Using probiotics was an idea he learned about while on a visit to Indonesia. “I noticed that their tilapia were healthier because they were not being fed with solid feed products. I decided to adopt the practice and started looking for probiotics when I came home,” De Guzman recalled.

Appropriate technology to the rescue

He was able to find a local feed distributor who sold Probiotics for Aquaculture but decided to contact UPLB BIOTECH when availability became an issue.

De Guzman who is a BS Fisheries graduate, attests to the product as an essential input in the management of tilapia hatcheries. “There are three factors affecting sustainable aquaculture, namely: genetics, nutrition, and management. Probiotics for Aquaculture definitely helps us in the management part of sustainable aquaculture,” he explained.

De Guzman spread the good news to other fish farmers like Ronald Zuniega, also of Nueva Vizcaya. Zuniega described the improvement in his income after using Probiotics for Aquaculture. “There was a big cut on the cost. I used to need 6-8 bags of feed per day, but now I only use 4-5 bags because of the probiotics. There’s a big difference,” he said.

UPLB-BIOTECH’s Probiotics for Aquaculture is the brainchild of Dr. Laura J. Pham. It was developed with funding support from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) in 2011 to harness the advantages of probiotics in addressing the challenges in aquaculture farming in the country.

Probiotics for Aquaculture is composed of multiple locally sourced probiotic strains. It enhances the host’s response toward diseases, improves feeding efficacy, and maintains the rearing environment.

More probiotic products in the making

Nico G. Dumandan, BIOTECH researcher and co-developer of Probiotics for Aquaculture, said that probiotics are the safest and most viable option to antibiotics in the market. With funding support from DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), he and his team are now developing a microencapsulation technology for efficient delivery system of probiotics which will soon be available in pellet form.

True to its mandate to develop cost-effective and environment-friendly products as comparable or better alternatives to conventional counterparts, UPLB-BIOTECH has developed products that help improve agriculture, forestry, environment, and the energy industry.

It has invented or created biofertilizers for agriculture and forestry crops and food and feed enzymes that are now benefitting local industries and entrepreneurs.

BIOTECH also produces probiotic feed supplements for swine, poultry, and livestock, which are now being used by livestock raisers in the country.

With positive feedback from fish farmers, improved harvest quality, and increased yield, these microorganisms are making a big difference in the livelihoods of Filipinos. It is indeed fitting to call UPLB-BIOTECH’s Probiotics for Aquaculture, a fish farmer’s ‘best friend.’

(This article, written by Art John I. Agapito and Sophia M. Mercado, was first published in the UPLB Horizon Website on March 23, 2022)