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PIA Press Release

Natonin abaca growers need support to sustain industry

by A. Doga-ong

NATONIN, Mt. Province (31 October) -- The growing abaca industry and the One Town One Product (0TOP) of this eastern municipality needs appropriate support to spur its economic development and enhance livelihood programs to the residents here.

Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist Benjamin Gayodan of the Provincial Office of the Department of Trade and Industry said the promising abaca industry project which was launched in 2003 is faced with problems that need to be addressed to ensure its sustainability and enable to meet the growing market demands.

Gayodan said the very poor condition of the 24 kilometers road stretch connecting the municipalities of Natonin and Paracelis should be improved for easier transport of abaca production to the market.

He disclosed that aside from the cost of production, the abaca farmers are also hard up with the cost of transportation adding that the freight of every kilo of raw Abaca fiber products from Natonin to Paracelis is P2,00 plus the P18,000 hire for every truckload of abaca products from Paracelis to the leading abaca buyers in Manila and Bulacan.

Gayodan also batted for more technology assistance such as stripping machines and mechanical dryers to enhance production. He said the trained abaca strippers cannot produced much as they are doing it manually and the abaca stalks can hardly be dried as it depend mostly on air drying as the area is known as the home of the rain.

To improve the quality of the abaca stalks and increase the abaca fiber recovery rate, Gayodan said the abaca farmers are contemplating on agricultural phase development. He explained that since the abaca plants are naturally grown in forested areas, the surroundings of abaca plants need to be weeded to allow the abaca plants to grow faster and bigger.

So far, the municipality of Natonin and the adjacent barangays in the towns of Barlig and Paracelis where these wild abaca plants thrive abundantly places Mountain Province as only abaca producing area in Northern Luzon. The wild abaca plants are naturally growing in some 900 hectares in these areas.

Other abaca producing areas in the Philippines include Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao. The Philippines provides 85 percent of the world's supply of abaca fiber while the remaining 15 percent comes from Ecuador.

Gayodan said that for January to June of 2007, the abaca farmers were able to sell 24.9 metric tons of raw abaca fiber at P33.50 per kilo to Manila Cordage Corporation and Jingbee Corporation, the two leading abaca fiber buyers in the country. At present, there are three entrepreneurs managing the Abaca Industry.

Meanwhile, the Development Bank of the Philippines has opened an initial P2 Billion credit window to support the government's OTOP program. Aside from loan assistance to OTOP entrepreneurs, the fund could also be access by local government units to support OTOP projects such as common service facility, road networks and infrastructures and financing training centers. (PIA-MP) [top]

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