DavOr’s Abaca Industry Set to get Boost

DAVAO ORIENTAL— The Provincial Government which has set ambitious targets to increase and improve the province’s abaca production is now complementing efforts with the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) for programs set to give the local abaca industry a boost.

Among the programs being set is the Sustained Abaca Disease Management Program. PhilFIDA XI Regional Director Eduardo Holoyohoy said that the agency has already allocated a budget intended for 450 hectares of abaca plantation for this year with the provincial government to provide counterpart fund.

He said the priority areas for the project are the towns of Manay, Baganga, Caraga, Cateel, and Boston. He added that those areas not included in the budget for this year will be prioritized in the following year.

Improvement of the abaca fiber is also among the programs that the agency is focusing on. He said that poor quality of abaca fibers being sold in volumes is a challenge that the agency is trying to tackle. He said the problem poses a threat to the industry because of the production of low quality fibers that is incompetent in the global market.

Addressing this, Holoyohoy said he has already met with abaca traders early in January and has come up with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) banning the buying of abaca in what they called “all-in buying”. This means that big players in the market will only buy abaca fibers based on its quality by sorting it to different grades. Holoyohoy said this will not only improve quality of the abaca produce here but also in the rest of abaca-producing regions.

Meanwhile, PhilFIDA also partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to supplement their existing post-harvest facilities. DTI implements the Shared Service Facility (SSF) for abaca farmers. Under the program, farmers and small entrepreneurs’ competitiveness is being improved by providing them with machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system.” 

“As of now we are on one direction with the provincial government to address all these problems because abaca is an important commodity in Davao Oriental where there are several farmers depending on it,” Holoyohoy said.

Aside from these projects, various programs were also laid out through the funding earmarked under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP). Some of these projects are abaca seed production, abaca expansion and rehabilitation, and livelihood training support.

The province’s promising abaca industry is being eyed to get more developments amid the wide demand and supply gap of abaca in the local and global markets, he said.

Since the country is among the world’s biggest supplier of abaca, he said that the agency and its partners are determined to address the major problems that the abaca farmers encounter.

In the country, Davao Oriental ranks second to Catanduanes in terms of volume of production, contributing 10.11% to the country’s total national fiber production of 58,393 metric tons.

In the whole region eleven, Davao Oriental remains the leading producer of abaca. In 2016, Davao Oriental has produced 7,352.43 metric tons, higher than Davao Occidental’s 2,234.43 metric tons harvest on the same year.

To ensure effective implementation of the progams for abaca, Holoyohoy furthered that they will be involving barangay officials in the program implementation. “We cannot do it alone, especially because of the high transportation cost due to the distance and the difficult and unpaved roads going to the areas.”

Holoyohoy said the Provincial Government’s role in boosting the abaca industry here is of major importance, especially because of the agency’s limited budget which is expected to cater more than 6,000 hectares abaca farms here, primarily located in the hinterland villages.

The Provincial Governor’s Office which is now taking the lead in the province’s abaca industry program is bent at reviving and boosting the province’s “sleeping industry” as it holds a promising economic benefit especially for the upland communities where the Mandaya Indigenous Peoples ancestral domains are located.

Abaca which grows in areas with higher altitude is deemed suitable to be planted in the ancestral domains in the uplands where accessibility and limited economic opportunities are the main challenge.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who has set new policies by prioritizing the province’s ancestral domains where most of the province’s poor lives, says that boosting the abaca industry in the province would mean huge benefits for the IP communities. 

With Davao Oriental’s ancestral domain covering a total of 348,763 hectares which consists 67 percent of the province’s total land area, the Provincial Government feels that it is high-time for the government to focus its interventions on the ancestral domains. By Riza Golez/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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