Piñol sees P3B annual income for abaca farmers
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said abaca farmers could make P3 billion annually once the Department of Agriculture rehabilitates the industry.
Piñol said the DA will be providing an initial P100 million rehabilitation fund to the local government of Sogod in Southern Leyte to establish an abaca nursery covering 2,000 hectares. A team of experts will also be brought to Sogod to come up with solutions to the Bunchy Top disease that has decimated abaca plants in Leyte, Samar, and Bicol. A massive education and information campaign will also be conducted to provide the farmers the proper technology to manage their abaca farms.
Piñol is hoping to expand the land planted to abaca to 200,000 over the next five years of the Duterte administration.
He said one company, Pulp Specialties which is owned by Dennis Villareal, needs 100,000 metric tons of abaca every year for its overseas clients whose demand for abaca continues to increase.
According to Piñol, abaca, also known as Manila Hemp, is “the source of the strongest natural fiber the world has ever known.”
He said abaca was originally found only in the Philippines and was a source of livelihood for many in Bicol, Samar, Leyte, Panay, Sulu, Zamboanga, Caraga, and Cotabato. It was extremely profitable that Japanese companies invested in it in Davao City to make it the country’s ‘Manila Hemp capital.’
Piñol recently visited Sogod in Southern Leyte with officials of the Philippine Fiber Development Authority and some private companies that are interested in buying as much as 140,000 tons of abaca fiber every year.
“The abaca industry rehabilitation program would mean lifting up thousands of rural families from poverty, which is President Duterte’s ultimate dream,” Piñol said.