The abaca industry continues to be a major source of employment and foreign exchange earnings of the Philippines. Demand for abaca is expected to grow due mainly to environmental and forest conservation concerns — abaca being a viable alternative to wood as raw mat for pulp and paper manufacture and it is also a preferred material to plastic and other synthetic materials. Many industries around the world are now shifting back to natural and environment friendly raw materials. Abaca fiber is also used as a material to produce furniture and fixtures, textiles, handicraft, other industrial products from cosmetics, skin care products and toothbrushes, sausage casing, stencil papers, tissue papers, currency notes, grocery bags and automobile parts. This further opens limitless opportunities for abaca.
Davao Oriental is the top producer of abaca fiber in the region and the fourth in the Philippines. Bulk of the province’s produce, however, is raw abaca fiber. Production of dagmay cloth, handicrafts and hammocks is relatively low. Hence, leaving a lot of opportunities for expansion and diversification.
As of 2008, a total of 7,452 hectares are planted to abaca in the province, directly benefiting some 2,166 IP’s farmers. These planted areas are distributed in the nine municipalities as follows: Manay – 2,939.7 hectares with 295 IP farmers, Cateel – 1,104.31 hectares with 465 IP farmers, Baganga – 1,015.5 hectares with 435 IP farmers, Boston – 850 hectares with 468 IP farmers involved, Caraga – 617 hectares with 225 IP farmers, Tarragona – 471.96 hectares with 91 IP farmers, Lupon – 377.25 hectares with 144 IP farmers, Mati – 55.60 hectares with 35 IP farmers and Banaybanay – 20.50 hectares with only 8 IP farmers.
The abaca farmers in Davao Oriental generally just extract abaca fiber from their harvested plants and directly sell these raw materials to abaca traders (barangay traders, municipal traders and GBEs). These are brought to Davao City and other parts of the country, i.e., Samar, Leyte and Bicol for further processing into paper pulp, ropes and cordage and other abaca-based finished products.
Some abaca fibers are woven into “dagmay” cloth by the natives of Caraga and worn since their ancestors’ era. With the fashion trends and innovations, the cloth were converted into coin purses, wallets, fashion bags, housewares and other fashion accessories. Now, abaca material have been processed into high value products like sinamay coth and paper.
On the aggregate, the abaca industry in the province translates into an annual average production of 7,549 metric tons or an estimated annual income of P298 million.
|Total Land Area||516,446.00 Has.|
|Total Agricultural Land Area||238,680.00 Has.|
|Area Planted to Abaca||14,350.00 Has|
|No. of Abaca Farmers||2,166 Farmers|
|Average Farm Size||3.24 Has.|
|Average Production per Hectare/Year||1,001 Kgs.|
|Potential Area for Abaca Production||50,000 Has.|
The Farmers and traders are the key players of this industry in the province. Operating within the industry are around 2,166 farmers, 32 town fiber traders, 5 grading baling establishments and 2 fiber craft producers.
The relationship between farmers and traders are so entrenched because the latter also supply the farmer farm inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals and even cash for their daily households needs.
Due to the level of abaca utilization in the province, technology used is confined to the indigenous method of extracting abaca fiber called hand stripping or “de mano” and the use of spindle or stripping machine, a portable gadget that can easily be transferred from one area to another. For the dagmay weaving, women use their indigenous looms.
Currently there exist a tissue culture laboratory for abaca established at the Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology but such facility has yet to normalize its operation.
The growing local and export market demand for abaca makes abaca fiber a lucrative product. There is also a good demand for other abaca finished and semifinished products such as abaca twine, sinamay cloth, dagmay cloth, dagmay novelties, abaca novelties.
The industry offers a lot of potentials for investments given its increasing demand and diverse utilization. Among these are:
• Expansion of Production Areas
• Abaca Pulp Processing
• Rope /Cordage Making / Carpets and Rugs
• Sinamay Cloth & Sinamay Housewares Processing
• Dagmay Weaving and Dagmay Novelty Making
• Establishment of Facilities
• Operation of a tissue culture laboratory / nursery