Foreign buyers arriving for Aklan’s Fiber fest
by Venus G. Villanueva
Kalibo, Aklan (17 April) -- Ten foreign buyers from Europe will be coming here to look over Aklan’s export quality products on showcase during the week-long conduct of the 8th Aklan Piña and Fiber Festival set on April 23-27 of this year.
The product showcase will be held at the ABL Sports Complex and at the capitol grounds in Kalibo.
“This means that Aklan Piña and Fiber Festival, now on its 8th year, is really going places,” said DTI-Aklan Sr. Trade and Industry Specialist Philomena Valencia during a radio interview.
Valencia attributed this much-welcome economic development in Aklan as the result of regular participation of Aklan’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other local producers to different exhibits and trade fairs held in malls in Region 6 and in Manila, and at the Manila FAME.
The DTI here revealed that new products will be launched in the showcase this year. One special feature, the Fairtrade Zone, will be set up at the theme setting and the contemporary lifestyle of living spaces by the worldlifestyle designer PJ Arañador.
A total of 100 exhibitors will be showcasing their products this year, composed of loom woven (piña, abaca, raffia) gifts and housewares, furniture, processed foods, garden plants/cutflowers, OTOP (One Town, One Product) of local government units, products from KALAHI (Kapit-Bisig Laban Sa Kahirapan) and DAR-Agrarian Reform Communities.
From generating sales of more that P100,000 when the fiber fest was first launched in 1999, Valencia said the sales of the activity has never gone below the P2 million mark after its 3rd year in 2001, with sales that reached more than P3 million in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Last year, Valencia said the showcase generated a total of P2,267,000.00 sales through direct buyers and booked orders.
Today, Valencia said the nito products from Aklan are consistently the export leader, while the piña products are much more in demand in the domestic market.
Some Aklan SMEs are already exporters. Some have also availed of loans from government banks like the Land Bank and the DBP here for additional business capital.
According to NEDA Director-General Romulo Neri, the lending activities of banks have increased by 10 percent due to the low interest rates on their loans, making it palatable to the prospective borrowers and investors. Furthermore, inflation is at its lowest in 10 years at 2.2 percent, making borrowing from banks more appealing, according to Neri.
This trend of borrowing, he said, will translate to more jobs as more entrepreneurs put up their own businesses.
In Aklan, SMEs provide jobs to Aklanons especially in the barangays by getting their services as weavers, piña planters, fiber extractors and knotters, nito craft makers, food processing workers, etc.
The fiber fest is one of the highlights of Aklan’s week-long celebration as an indepenedent province from Capiz. Officially separated from Capiz by virtue of RA 1414 on April 25, 1956, Aklan is now 51 years old.
The showcase is a project of the provincial government under Governor Carlito S. Marquez, Office of Cong. Florencio T. Mirafkores, Department of Trade and Industry-Aklan headed by Provincial Director Ermelinda Pollentes and the Advocates of Philippine Fair Trade, Inc. (PIA) [top]