PH needs additional planting space for abaca
To fill up abaca fiber shortage and cater to growing global demand, the Philippines needs to add additional 54,000 hectares of planting space for the said commodity, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
According to him, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PHILFIDA), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, is now leading the revival of an industry, which was almost wiped out because of diseases and lack of government support years back.
The PHILFIDA said that with an average production of 4 metric tons per hectare, the country needs to develop an additional 54,000 hectares of abaca farms all over the country to fill up the current shortage.
“The demand is growing as more industrial uses for the world’s natural fiber is increasing and with good prices ranging from P60 to P120 per kilo depending on the quality, the Filipino Abaca farmers are responding,” Piñol said.
Abaca fiber’s use has expanded from just cordage and ropes and textiles to the production of special papers for paper bills like the Japanese Yen, tea bags and car insulators and dashboards.
Abaca is endemic to the Philippines but countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador and Indonesia were able to obtain planting materials and are currently developing their natural fiber industry.
Still, the Philippines dominates the Abaca market supply an estimated 90 percent of the world demand.
Piñol specified that production loans for Abaca farmers are now available through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), an agency under the DA, amounting to at least P15,000 per hectare.
Abaca farmers are also encouraged to plant secondary crops like Cacao, Coffee, Black Pepper and industrial tree species like Falcata and Gmelina to increase their income.
Coconut, rubber and fruit tree farmers are also taught how to plant Abaca in between rows to add more to their earnings.
PHILFIDA expects to cover the 54,000 hectares needed to produce more Abaca fiber in the next five years.