Dole Philippines has thrown its support behind the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) pineapple-based leather-production project for the poor, according to Agriculture
Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.
Piñol said Dole Philippines will ink a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DA to formalize the multinational firm’s support for the livelihood project.
“Top officials of Dole Philippines have pledged to donate to poor families pineapple leaves from their 18,000-hectare plantations all over Mindanao,” Piñol said in his Facebook post.
“In a meeting on Sunday with officials of Dole Philippines led by Carlos H. Mandujano, senior vice president for worldwide agriculture and research, I asked them to allow poor families to gather pineapple leaves after the fruits are harvested,” he added.
Piñol said the DA is keen on signing the MOA in the presence of President Duterte within the month.
Under the MOA, Dole Philippines will provide pineapple leaves to poor families living near the plantations while the DA will provide technical support and decorticating machines, including dryers. Hijosa’s group will buy the decorticated pineapple fiber, Piñol said.
“With over 18,000 hectares of pineapple plantations, Dole Philippines’s support to the Piñatex natural leather production could lift thousands of farmers from poverty,” he said.
“Hopefully, I will be able to convince the other companies involved in pineapple production, such as Sumifru and Del Monte, to follow the example of Dole Philippines,” the DA chief added. In a meeting with Piñol on December 7, UK-based textile brand Ananas Anam presented their products made from pineapple leaves and pulp.
Ananas Anam Founder Carmen Hijosa, who is a scientist by profession, developed a
technology which processes pineapple leaves into leather used by shoemakers, furniture designers and car manufacturers.
“The ‘green leather’ produced from pineapple leaves fiber is called Piñatex, and Dr. Hijosa’s company is buying decorticated fibers from pineapple farmers,” Piñol said.
“Her company is now buying pineapple fibers from farmers in Labo, Camarines Norte, at P1 per kilogram of leaves. She, however, said that, if the leaves are decorticated, her company could buy the fiber at P300 per kg,” he added.
The DA chief said pineapple leaves and pulp are usually left to rot in the field before huge tractors are fielded to prepare the area again for the next planting season.
Piñol said Hijosa’s company wants to buy more fibers from the Philippines, particularly those sourced from big plantations.
According to the DA, the Philippines is the top exporter of juice concentrates and pineapple juice. Most of the pineapple products shipped abroad comes from Mindanao. Pineapple is processed into puree, dried, juice concentrates, canned products and fruit cocktail in syrup that is intended for export.
The Philippines is second to Thailand in terms of processing. The DA said 85 percent of processing belongs to companies like Del Monte and Dole.
There are 28 processing plants in the Philippines. The DA said native Philippine red or Spanish red when processed is an excellent source of piña fiber.