The abaca industry needs a little push from the government.
This was the gist of the message of outgoing Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala’s during the 3rd year anniversary of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority.
“Not too many farmers want to go into the production of abaca, resulting to a low production,” he added.
The aforementioned concerns are part of the recommendations of Alcala to the new DA management to be led by incoming Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.
“The abaca farmers really need more government support on the production side,” Alcala said.
Abaca is an ideal companion crop especially under coconut and fruit-bearing trees, and could provide secondary or additional income to farmers. Alcala requested the PhilFIDA to utilize all resources and technologies available in order to maintain and keep existing abaca nurseries, which provide planting materials to the farmers.
“At the end of the day, farmers who want to expand will need quality planting materials, so it is important that nurseries will be available to deliver the necessary abaca clonal materials,” he said.
Alcala instructed PhilFIDA Director Clarito Barron to ensure that every regional office maintains a good supply of clonal abaca planting materials for the farmers. He also urged Ms. Karen Roscom of DA-Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards to craft, as soon as possible, quality standards for abaca that will ensure competitiveness of the crop.
Alcala underscored the importance of market matching so while abaca farmers are planting they will be assured of ready buyers. Meanwhile, Barron thanked Alcala for his constant support for the local fiber industry as well as the legacy he is leaving to DA.
According to the PhilFIDA chief, the fiber agency delivered production support to 11,442 abaca farmers in terms of technical assistance and distribution of seedlings. A total of 306, 053 planting materials were distributed to abaca farmers in 2015 composed of shoots, sucker.
The agency distributed 157,554 to 26 individuals and 31 groups; 146,993 plantlets were distributed to 59 individuals and 35 groups.
Statistics shows both the area planted to abaca as well as the number of farmers increased from 2014 to 2015 – from 176,548 hectares and 122,758 farmers in 2014, to 179,858 hectares and 125,530 farmers last year. In 2015, there was also a 36% increase in export of raw abaca fiber with a value of US$127-million.
Barron also stressed the sustained implementation of Abaca Disease Management Program and Abaca Rehabilitation Project of PhilFIDA. These two programs are geared toward increasing yield of abaca fiber which will eventually address the problem on low supply of fiber in the country. (Marlo Asis, DA-AFID)