SEN. Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay called on Thursday for more collaborative efforts among concerned government agencies to revive the Philippines’s silk sector.
“I have seen how our agencies involved with revitalizing the silk industry are squeezing every ounce of effort to provide solutions to address the various issues that hound silk production in our country, such as low production and manufacturing capacity, and even threat of climate change,” she said during the Tela Vision 2020 Summit held at the Citadines Hotel in Pasay City.
Of the total requirement for silk in the country today, only 10 percent is being supplied by the local producers, according to Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) Director Celia B. Elumba.
“We really have a big gap in supply and demand here,” she told the BusinessMirror in mixed Filipino and English at a sideline interview.
This is because there are only few silk producers in the country at present, she said, while citing that the Negros Sericulture Project, which is done in partnership with Japan’s Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement or OISCA, as the only commercial scale producer in the country.
Given the lack of locally sourced materials, importing from abroad, particularly in China and Thailand, is what most of the producers resort to, according to Elumba.
While there were many efforts done in the past to reinvigorate the silk production—once a viable industry—she said that there are still many things to consider, among which are related to safety and security issues in Mindanao. A factory that was put up there in previous years by a Japanese investor had to close down.
“Another concern was way back, the mortality of silkworm was 90 percent, and we had to be importing some of those silkworm eggs. Today, it’s the opposite. The mortality rate is less than 10 percent. It’s under 5 percent,” Elumba said. “Now, our ability to really have production is high. So we’re really encouraging our farmers to go back into silk production so as to help increase the supply.”
Given the improving industry situation, Binay emphasized that there are different areas of improvement, which require cooperation with the rest of the government agencies, particularly the DOST, the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology underscored the need to come up with a “flawless working relationship” with the local farmers, fabric weavers, dressmakers and entrepreneurs, among others.