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CHULIPA, Loraine T.

071 593 0194


21 July 2016
I.

#56

What is a yuyu?

Yuyu is the local Ifugao name of the dojo loach


(Misgurnis anguillicaudatus) which is a freshwater eel-like
fish native to East Asia. It is also known as weather loach
because of its inherent ability to detect changes in barometric
pressure. Accordingly, it moves actively about when a storm is
coming ([BFAR] in Guieb, 2013).
Yuyu live in rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, and other
areas with muddy bottoms such as rice fields. They can
survive subtropical temperatures, from 5 to 25 C, although
the optimum is from 18 to 23 C. They are omnivores and are
reported to feed on worms, small crustaceans, insects, insect
larvae, and other small aquatic organisms.
II.

Yuyu in the Philippines

Figure 1. Yuyu

Figure 2.Yuyu

Yuyu are not native to the Philippines. Officially, they were


introduced by the Japanese to the Trinidad Fish Farm (now known as
Benguet State University) in 1931. However, there were rumors that
yuyu was earlier introduced by Japanese workers hired in 1903 by the
Americans to build infrastructures in the neighboring Baguio City.
Figure 3.Philippine Map

From 1937 to 1952, keeping yuyu was practiced throughout


the Cordillera region. Similar to the rice-fish farming systems in
China, the yuyu were also kept in the rice fields, notably in the Rice
Terraces in Mt. Province and Ifugao, because other than being a
popular protein fish source, they also required little to no upkeep and Figure 4. Ifugao Map
they helped with the pest control by eating insects. Another benefit of
keeping yuyu is that their movements upturn the soil, thus allowing oxygen gas to
access plant roots. Aeration of the soil also increases the decomposition rate of organic
matters used as fertilizers.
As the yuyu-keeping was adopted by more and more farmers, yuyu populations
were so numerous that in 1970, they were being exported to Japan. However, in the
recent times, changes in farming practices such as usage of chemical pesticides and crop

rotation with plants that do not grow on wet fields like beans and cabbages, as well as
the introduction of its non-native predators such as the Golden Apple Snail (P.
canicaluta), resulted in a drastic decrease in yuyu populations. In the 1980s, a kilogram
of yuyu would cost around Y100 but now, it could reach up to Y2000 per kilogram.
III. Aquaculture in Ifugao
In light of the declining population of the yuyu, the first yuyu congress was held
at Ifugao on 2008. In the same year, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
(BFAR) turned over a fish hatchery built in the 1980s to the local government unit
(LGU) of Hungduan, Ifugao.
Other than the efforts of the Philippine government, foreign aid also
strengthened the efforts of the community in regaining the lost yuyu population. One of
the helpers is Juri Watanabe, a graduate in aquaculture of Kagoshima University, who
went to Mayoyao, Ifugao as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV). She
helped develop the yuyu hatchery in Mayoyao and also gave training to farmers who
want to be yuyu breeders.
Her breeding methods include two main steps: (1) Preparing the breeding
grounds, and (2) the breeding process itself. For the first step, old water from the rice
fields is drained and changed to get rid of predators. Organic fertilizers like manure,
compost, and grass, are then tilled to the ground to produce planktons and attract small
insects which will serve as the yuyus food. After 10 days, plankton populations would
turn the water green, indicating that it is time to breed the yuyu.
A female yuyu can lay up to 10,000 eggs at a time. In order to induce breeding,
spawning hormones are injected into the female breeders after which, they are
transferred to a spawning net which contains male yuyu four times the number of the
female yuyu. After 24 hours, the breeders would start laying eggs and after another 24
hours, the eggs would hatch.
Rice planting seasons across Ifugao Province is varied but generally, farmers
till the lands from late November then start planting rice seedlings from January to
February. Harvests are from July to August. Yuyus are released into the fields
simultaneously during the planting season and they are also caught during the harvest
seasons.
There are two indigenous fishing gears used to catch yuyu. First is the guvu
which is a cone-shaped trap made from rattan. The wider bottom part has an inverse
opening, thus allowing the yuyu to swim in and rice stalks or grass are inserted to the

tapered end to prevent the yuyu from escaping. This kind of trap is shallowly buried to
the fields and is left overnight.
The second gear is a called a haychu. It looks like a winnower but with holes,
and is made of bamboo. This trap is usually used during the day. The farmers simply
bury it shallowly in the field, cover it with stacks of rice, and then carefully lift it up
after a period of time.

Figure 5. Gubu, trap made out of rattan


bamboo

Figure 7 Setting the gubu trap

Figure 6. Haychu, trap made out of

Figure 8. Using the haychu trap

Figure 9. Catch using the haychu

Figure 11. Cooking the yuyu


the snails

Figure 13. Yuyu with rice

Figure 10. Cleaning off the catch

Figure 12. Separating the yuyu from

Figure 14. Kids eating yuyu

IV. Yuyu in the Present


Recently, thanks to the efforts of the community, LGUs, BFAR, and various
non-government organizations (NGOs), the yuyu industry is improving. Several
countermeasures, such as capturing of the yuyus main predators the Golden Apple

Snail and making products out of them, are being undertaken. Another method is
raising ducks which eat the snails.
In 2006, yuyu was one of Hungduans main products under the One Town,
One Product program of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry. Other than
being fried and served as tempura, other mentioned products were [yuyu] pastillas, yuyu moon cookies, choco-loachstick, camote-loach delights, and crunchy jokes
(Guieb, 2013).
References
Cantor. Misgurnus anguillicaudatus. fishbase.org. 1842. http://www.fishbase.org/Field
Guide/FieldGuideSummary.php?
genusname=Misgurnus&speciesname=anguillicaudatus&c_code=608&print=
Guieb M. Highland 'yuyu' in cordillera nearing extinction. The Philippine Star. 2013
Dec
14. http://thebrightleafawards.com/2013-best-agriculture-feature-storynational/
Hope for the Ifugao Farmers. Japan International Cooperation Agency. 2013 Sep 23.
http://www.jica.go.jp/philippine/english/office/topics/news/130913.html
Ifugao holds first yu-yu congress to conserve rice terraces. GMA News Online. 2008
Jun
13. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/101041/news/regions/ ifugaoholds-first-yu-yu-congress-to-conserve-rice-terraces
Misgurnus anguillicaudatus. seriouslyfish. http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/
misgurnus-anguillicaudatus/
Tinawon: ifugao traditional rice production. Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts.
http://www.nikeprogramme.org/index.php/ik-database/researches/82knowledge-we-wrote/135-tinawon-ifugao-traditional-rice-production.html
Yuyu. Doon Po Sa Amin. 2011 Nov 11. https://renitajocelyn2011.wordpress.com/
2011/11/11/yuyu/