Movement restrictions imposed by the government to stop the spread of Covid-19 coupled with the devastation caused by Typhoon Rolly (international name Goni) pulled down the country’s abaca output last year to a 7-year low.
Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFida) data obtained and analyzed by the BusinessMirror showed that abaca production last year declined by 11.94 percent to 61,491.67 metric tons (MT) from the 69,828.8 MT recorded in 2019.
Historical PhilFida data, dating back to 1980, showed that this is the lowest abaca output by the country since the 55,958 MT recorded in 2013.
Data also showed that the nationwide production of the natural fiber was below 70,000 MT for the second consecutive year.
PhilFida Executive Director Kennedy T. Costales told the BusinessMirror that movement restrictions imposed last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic hampered the trade of abaca nationwide.
“Our farmers weren’t able to go to the mountain to harvest and at the same time they cannot go to areas where the trading is happening. There were checkpoints in every municipality. Due to these restrictions, the traders were also not able to [sell their abaca].”
This was made worse by Typhoon Rolly which battered Catanduanes in November last year, as the province is the country’s top producer of abaca, Costales added.
“Catanduanes looked like it was hit by a nuclear bomb. I went to Bato, Catanduanes and the mountains are really brown, all abaca were uprooted.”
Costales told the BusinessMirror last year after Rolly hit Catanduanes that total abaca output for 2020 could fall to its lowest level in 20 years. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/11/03/rolly-hits-abaca-hard-20-year-decline-seen/).