Coali­tion aims to boost lo­cal abaca in­dus­try

THE ABACA COALI­TION as­sem­bled the stake­hold­ers of the coun­try’s abaca in­dus­try in the first-ever Abaca Sum­mit, which was held in So­god, South­ern Leyte late in 2015, in an ef­fort to ad­dress the dif­fer­ent con­cerns that hound the sec­tor.

Agriculture - - Contents -

A VENUE FOR TACK­LING IS­SUES

The South­ern Leyte State Univer­sity (SLSU), a mem­ber of the Abaca Coali­tion, hosted the two-day sum­mit, which was at­tended by the So­god abaca farm­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous govern­ment line agen­cies, re­gional govern­ment of­fices, na­tional and lo­cal aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, lo­cal govern­ment units (LGUs), and the pri­vate sec­tor.

The sum­mit pro­vided a venue for the stake­hold­ers to tackle press­ing is­sues that hin­der the coun­try’s abaca in­dus­try amid the ef­fects of cli­mate change and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) in­te­gra­tion, among other chal­lenges.

Be­ing a mem­ber of the Coali­tion, the World­fish Or­ga­ni­za­tion, an in­ter­na­tional re­search group, which har­nesses fish­eries and aqua­cul­ture to re­duce hunger and poverty, spear­headed the sum­mit in con­so­nance with its Aquatic Agri­cul­tural Sys­tems (AAS) pro­gram.

Other mem­bers of the Abaca Coali­tion in­clude state col­leges and univer­si­ties, govern­ment re­search in­sti­tu­tions, pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions, mu­nic­i­pal and barangay govern­ment units, and the me­dia.

A GUID­ING MIS­SION AND GOAL

The mis­sion of the Coali­tion is to de­velop an in­te­grated ac­tion plan for ad­vanc­ing the abaca sec­tor in Re­gion 8, and de­velop it into a

man­i­festo which will be sub­mit­ted for leg­is­la­tion.

Based on the iden­ti­fied pri­or­ity is­sues which came out dur­ing the sum­mit, the Coali­tion—with with the help of the So­god abaca farm­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the abaca fiber and pulp in­dus­try, and con­cerned govern­ment agen­cies—de­vel­oped the joint ac­tion plan.

The pro­posed plan cov­ers the es­tab­lish­ment of barangay nurs­eries, set­ting up an in­te­grated dis­ease man­age­ment scheme, pro­duc­tion of tis­sue-cul­tured plant­ing ma­te­ri­als, de­vel­op­ment of an in­cen­tive-based ex­pan­sion of the plant­ing ar­eas – es­pe­cially those within the for­est cover, pro­vid­ing train­ing ses­sions for the farm­ers on fiber qual­ity, and de­vel­op­ing a base­line for the abaca farms which will be­come a sup­port sys­tem for de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion th­ese ef­forts, the mem­bers of the Abaca Coali­tion ex­pect to have at least one hun­dred hectares of land in Re­gion 8 which will be planted to abaca within a pe­riod of one year.

It was learned that about 50 hectares of th­ese plan­ta­tions are ex­pected to be sus­tain­ably cer­ti­fied be­cause cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for sus­tain­abil­ity of the abaca plan­ta­tion is a re­quire­ment in for­eign trade.

Con­sid­ered an eco­nom­i­cally im­por­tant crop which is in­dige­nous to the Philip­pines, abaca is the lifeblood of more than 200,000 farm­ing fam­i­lies from 56 abaca grow­ing provinces in the coun­try. There is a high de­mand for it as raw ma­te­rial for tex­tiles, hand­i­crafts, spe­cialty pa­pers, and just re­cently, for dash­boards and car in­te­ri­ors, among other prod­ucts.

Al­though the coun­try has main­tained its stature as the big­gest sup­plier of abaca prod­ucts in the world mar­ket, lo­cal abaca pro­duc­tion has de­clined over the past years due to sev­eral con­straints.

Th­ese in­clude the lack of high-yield­ing and virus-re­sis­tant plant­ing ma­te­ri­als and preva­lence of pest and dis­eases, most no­to­ri­ous of which is the abaca bunchy top virus (ABTV).

IM­POR­TANT IN­TER­VEN­TIONS

The sum­mit also be­came the venue for the turnover of sev­eral strip­ping ma­chines for the useof the abaca farm­ers in the barangaysof Maac, Ma­haya­hay, Javier, and Maria Plana in So­god, South­ern Leyte. The ma­chine was de­signed and de­vel­oped by the Na­tional Abaca Re­search Cen­ter, which is based at the Visayas State Univer­sity (VSU) in Bay­bay, Leyte.

The four units of strip­ping ma­chines were pur­chased through a re­search and de­vel­op­ment grant from the Philip­pine Coun­cil for Agri­cul­ture, Aquatic, and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Re­search and De­vel­op­ment of the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (DOST-PCAARRD). The PCAARRD said that with the use of the ma­chine, four per­sons can har­vest one hectare of abaca in just seven to eight days.

Weigh­ing only 93 kilo­grams, it can be eas­ily dis­man­tled and car­ried to ar­eas not ac­ces­si­ble by trans­porta­tion. The ma­chine can strip var­i­ous na­tive abaca va­ri­eties by re­plac­ing strip­ping blades for vari­able qual­ity, re­cov­ery, and out­put. The govern­ment, through the DOST-PCAARRD and its part­ners, is push­ing sev­eral sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy (S&T) in­ter­ven­tions to ad­dress the poor tech­nol­ogy adop­tion of farm­ers. Most no­table of th­ese in­ter­ven­tions is the In­dus­try Strate­gic S&T Plan (ISP) for abaca.

MOV­ING FOR­WARD

Hav­ing orig­i­nated from the dreams of the So­god farm­ers in re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the abaca farms in Maac and Ma­haya­hay as an ad­di­tional source of liveli­hood, the abaca pro­ject ex­panded to in­clude Maria Plana and Javier, two other barangays in So­god.

A mini ex­hibit fea­tur­ing lo­cal prod­ucts, which make use of abaca fiber, abaca yarn, abaca wastes, and re­ject fibers, was set up dur­ing the sum­mit. The prod­ucts in­cluded util­ity boxes, gift boxes, ta­bles, bags, and other prod­ucts made out of abaca.

The Abaca Sum­mit con­cluded with coali­tion mem­bers and var­i­ous stake­hold­ers sign­ing a pledge of com­mit­ment for the ad­vance­ment of the abaca in­dus­try in the coun­try with the theme “Hayag ang ugma ta diha sa abaka” (We will have a brighter fu­ture with abaca). – BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

Abaca farm­ers com­ing from var­i­ous towns of South­ern Leyte en­thu­si­as­ti­cally par­tic­i­pated in the Abaca Sum­mit to air their dif­fer­ent con­cerns.

Coali­tion mem­bers and var­i­ous stake­hold­ers signed a pledge of com­mit­ment to the ad­vance­ment of the abaca in­dus­try in the coun­try.

Some of the pro­cessed abaca fibers which were pre­sented dur­ing the sum­mit.

The sum­mit also be­came the venue for the turnover of sev­eral strip­ping ma­chines for the use of abaca farm­ers in the barangays of Maac, Ma­haya­hay, Javier, and Maria Plana in So­god, South­ern Leyte.

The pro­duc­tion of tis­sue-cul­tured abaca plant­ing ma­te­ri­als was among the high­lights which were dis­cussed dur­ing the sum­mit.

Some of the in­dige­nous bags which can be made out of abaca.

The Barong Ta­ga­log and Filip­ini­ana gowns are among the prod­ucts which can be made out of the abaca fiber.

Dif­fer­ent hand­i­crafts and dec­o­ra­tive prod­ucts can be pro­duced eco­nom­i­cally by us­ing abaca fiber, which is in­dige­nous in the Philip­pines.

Abaca rope can also be used to cre­ate dec­o­ra­tive ma­te­ri­als which can in­crease the value of cer­tain prod­ucts like lo­cally-pro­duced wines and spir­its.

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