The country’s earnings from outbound shipments of abaca in 2016 rose 13.5 percent to $130.44 million, from $114.792 million in 2015, data from the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFida) showed.
Abaca-fiber exports from January to December 2016 reached 13,724.75 metric tons (MT), data further showed, which is 14.3 percent higher than the 12,009.87 MT recorded in 2015.
The UK remained the top buyer of Philippine abaca-fiber, accounting for nearly half, or 6,55.87 MT of the total purchases.
The Philippines’s total revenue from abaca-fiber exports in 2016 reached $25.781 million, 33.9 percent higher than the $19.26 million recorded in 2015.
The Philippines also shipped out 21,635.323 MT of abaca pulp in the January-to-December 2016 period, 2.5 percent lower than the 22,199.908 MT exported in 2015.
Despite the slight decrease in exported volume, the country earned 11.4 percent more from outbound shipments of abaca- pulp last year. The Philippines’s revenue from abaca pulp exports in 2016 reached $88.472 million, compared to the $79.437 million earned in 2015.
The UK bought the most abaca pulp from the Philippines last year, accounting for 37.3 percent of the total purchases. The Philippines’s export of abaca pulp to the European country jumped more than a quarter to 8,060.11 MT, from 6,385.42 MT in 2015.
However, export volume of abaca cordage in 2016 declined by 34.1 percent to 2,937.2 MT, from 4,458.3 MT recorded in 2015. The decline in volume exported resulted in a 33.2-percent cut in revenue from the product. The Philippines earned $7.643 million from outbound shipments of abaca cordage compared to the $11.436 million recorded revenue in 2015.
PhilFida Planning Division Chief Ramon M. Branzuela attributed the hike in abaca exports to the growing demand for the raw material in the international market, due to its quality.
“In line with the world’s growing interest for biodegradable products and forest conservation, abaca, with its natural and superior material, offers a lot of potential for industrial utilization,” Branzuela told the BusinessMirror.
“Abaca fiber is being utilized for the production of pulp for specialty papers and other nonwoven product applications. It is also being used for the manufacture of cordage, fabrics and fiber craft,” Branzuela added.
The Philippines, he said, supplied more than three quarters, or 87.17 percent, of the world’s abaca fiber requirement in 2015. Ecuador was second-top supplier of Manila hemp in 2015, with an exprot share of 12.77 percent, while Costa Rica supplied the rest.
“As the demand for abaca fibers grow, there is a need to increase its production to cater to the needs of the local and international markets,” Branzuela said.
Data from the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture also showed that the country’s abaca-fiber production in the first quarter of 2017 grew 4.2 percent to 16,261.28 MT, from 15,600.49 MT recorded output same time period last year.
Bicol region remained the top-producing region in the country with a 7,072.25-MT output in the January-to-March 2017 period. The region’s output in the first quarter of the year was 15.9 percent higher than the 6,103 MT produced same time period in 2015.
Under the Philippine Abaca Roadmap 2017-2022, PhilFida is eyeing to expand abaca plantations by at least 17,000 hectares this year to hike local output by 80,000 MT. Total area planted to abaca in 2016 reached 180,302 hectares with total abaca production reaching 72,734.71 MT.