Butuan City, Philippines – Abaca fiber in the region particularly in the province of Agusan del Norte will soon be saturating the local and foreign market as the Department of Agriculture–Caraga recently ignited the ground breaking ceremony for the establishment of a P15 Million abaca fiber warehouse with drying area at the Municipality of Santiago.
The San Isidro Upland Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SIUFMULCO) gained funding support from the DA’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) for its abaca fiber production and trading enhancement project with a total approved project cost of P31 million, P16 million of which is for the enterprise development component.
“Our membership has increased in the cluster areas since we started working for the realization of this project. Surely, many abaca farmers can benefit with this project,” said Leonora Mila, General Manager of SIUFMULCO.
SIUFMULCO has five clusters in selected municipalities all over Agusan del Norte with a total membership of at least 600 abaca farmers. These clusters are operating in the municipalities of Santiago, Nasipit, RTR, Kitcharao and Cabadbaran City.
Farmers in the areas often encounter challenges with drying and stripping since the weather is unpredictable and the machine they have is old, and at times the unavailability of an authorized person to do the stripping. All these concerns will be met because of the interventions provided by the Project.
Planting materials, organic fertilizer, nursery and stripping machines will be equally distributed to the cluster areas as part of the provision of the project package. “With this project, farmers will be more inspired and more idle lands will be planted with abaca,” Mila added.
Post-harvest facilities such as baling machine, forklift, wood pallets and push carts to enhance production of quality fiber were also included in the package. Two hauling trucks, moisture meter and weighing scales will also support to efficient marketing and trading.
“This is the kind of project we need in the province. Our goal is not just to help, but also to encourage and influence other farmers to do more,” said Agusan del Norte Provincial Board Member Victor Carmona.
The said facility will then serve as the standard grading and baling center accredited by the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA). With this, SIUFMULCO is expecting more abaca traders coming from other provinces in Caraga including neighboring regions from Davao and Northern Mindanao because of the expansion of the abaca project.
Abaca is of great demand in the world market today since its material is being used for making security papers, paper money, ropes, insulators and other handicraft items.
According to Secretary Manny Piñol, the native Philippine plant like abaca could earn farmers as much as P140,000 per hectare even when planted only as a second crop to coconuts and so developing its industry would be one of the priorities of the Department.
“With the cooperation of LGUs and farmer groups, we will continue to propose for more projects for the strengthening and development of viable agri-fishery enterprises through efficient value chains of key agriculture and fishery products,” said I-REAP Component Head Lynn Pareñas. (Fretcher Magatao 02/10/2017, ruralevolution.net)