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Abaca output seen rising as overseas demand soars

This file photo shows men weaving abaca by hand in a shop at a village in Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. In its blueprint for the abaca industry, the Philippine Fiber Development Authority expects the country to regain its status as the world’s top abaca producer through a substantial budget.

PHILIPPINE abaca output in 2018 may increase by 6 percent to over 76,000 metric tons, from the estimated 72,000 MT volume in 2017, according to estimates of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFida).

PhilFida Executive Director Kennedy T. Costales attributed the rise in production to higher buying prices, which are now at an “all-time high,” due to supply shortage.

This, Costales noted, encouraged farmers, especially those producing copra, to harvest more abaca to take advantage of the profit.

“The demand for abaca is so high, and the prices are high at the same time [which would drive production to increase]. Also, we are now campaigning for the production of good-quality fibers, which are being bought at better prices compared to copra now,” he said in an interview.

“You can earn as much as P120 per kilogram in abaca now, which is a clear at least P1,000 income for every 10 kilos harvested per day,” he added.

Costales said some copra farmers have now shifted to abaca as their primary crop instead of it being just an intercrop.

The PhilFida executive said there is a supply shortage of at least 25,000 MT in demand which the Philippines, the top producer of the natural fiber, is trying to fill up.

Around 90 percent of the country’s abaca output are being exported abroad as raw fiber and other products, according to Costales.

“The momentum in demand is there, hence, prices would not drop in 10 to 20 years time,” he said.

“Everybody right now, most especially the First World countries, are conscious of the environment and are looking for substitutes petroleum-based products. And they are looking for abaca,” he added.

Costales is optimistic that the local abaca sector would hit the production target this year under the Philippine Abaca Roadmap 2017-2022 of about 76,385 MT.

The country’s abaca output rose by 4.5 percent to 49,802.6 metric tons in January to September, from last year’s 47,644.2 MT, PhilFida data showed.

The latest data released by PhilFida showed that the Bicol region remained the top producer of the natural fiber as it accounted for 31.3 percent of the nine-month output. However, production in the region declined by 13.2 percent to 15,584 MT, from 17,962 MT recorded a year ago.

Davao region was the second-largest producer of abaca, accounting for 19.9 percent of total output. The other top producers of the fiber during the period were Eastern Visayas and Caraga, which both recorded a 12.4-percent production share.

Output in the Davao region grew by 18.5 percent to 9,921.2 MT from 8,371.5 MT, while production in Eastern Visayas and Caraga expanded by 4.5 percent and 22.6 percent, respectively.

PhilFida data also showed that Northern Mindanao posted the fastest increase in terms of production during the nine-month period.

Abaca production in the region expanded by 34.5 percent to 3,757.4 MT, from 2,792.9 MT recorded a year ago. Northern Mindanao accounted for 7.5 percent of total output.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes

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