PhilFIDA to provide planting materials to abaca farmers

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) has committed to deliver 100,000 abaca seed-derived planting materials to address the global shortage of abaca fibers.

In a statement, PhilFIDA said it can provide 100,000 abaca seed-derived planting materials which are good for 62.5 hectares or 1,600 planting materials per hectare.

“PhilFIDA can go as high as 100 hectares per province for a year’s operation of the subject nursery, which is to be established very near the proposed abaca plantation area,” it said.

The commitment comes after Bukidnon 2nd District Rep. Jonathan Keith Flores wrote to PhilFIDA executive director Kennedy Costales requesting for a provision of at least 10,000 abaca seedlings to be distributed among the abaca farmers in his district.

“Having the biggest agricultural area with high soil fertility and climate highly suited to agriculture, it is best to grow abaca in Bukidnon,” Flores said.

PhilFIDA said there is a 150,000-metric ton (MT) demand deficit or shortage of abaca fibers, or equivalent to about 70,000 to 80,000 hectares, as the world shifts from petroleum-based products like plastic and synthetics to biodegradable raw materials like abaca.

“Please note, abaca is the strongest,  longest and the most porous natural fiber in the world and the Philippines produces an average of 85 percent of the world’s requirements,” it said.

According to the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), the Philippines earns about $100 million yearly from the manufacture and export of abaca-based products.

The agency noted that there is no substitute to abaca given its morphological, chemical, and physical properties.

“Abaca is a direct substitute to wood pulp as the latter is not sustainable. In the future, abaca will be the main raw material to all kinds of paper applications,” PhilFIDA said.

FFF earlier  urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to stop issuing new polymer P1,000 bills, which has driven abaca farmers to lose market and income.

The  BSP’s decision to discontinue the use of abaca in making the new P1,000 bills has reduced the market and incomes of some 200,000 abaca farming families in 56 provinces.

Amid mounting complaints over the new bill, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filed a resolution to investigate the reasons and alleged lack of transparency behind the BSP’s shift to polymers.

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