Co-op’s abaca exports reach China, with local World Bank partner’s help

DAVAO CITY—A former small abaca producer in Sarangani province went out of its hibernation and broke through the China market recently, exporting its hemp worth some P1.05 million to a Chinese buyer.

This was made possible through the assistance of the World Bank-funded Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) to the United Maligang Multi-purpose Cooperative, an abaca-producing farmers’ group in Barangay Maligang in Kiamba, Sarangani.

The PRDP said the abaca-made products from Kiamba were already available in China.

The PRDP has extended assistance to this cooperative to ensure that it could meet the demand of the Chinese buyer that it didn’t name.

Beverly Pacquiao, the treasurer of the cooperative, said they shipped 400 kilos of S2 fiber (locally priced at P140 per kilo), 1,694 kilos of hank-type fiber (P550 per kilo) and cake-type fiber with 120 kilos (P520 per kilo).

Pacquiao said the shipment was only the initial part of an informal contract as the Chinese buyer wanted 8 to 10 metric tons per month.

However, the cooperative said it could produce only 5 to 6 metric tons at the moment.

The discussion resulted to the initial shipment, she said, although there was still no definite marketing agreement.

Pacquiao said the cooperative decided to grab the trade opportunity because of the higher buying price compared to the price offered by the local market. Besides, the cooperative said, the China deal would signal the expansion of the cooperative’s abaca production.

“We were enticed by the opportunity,” she said. The cooperative also grabbed the opportunity because it was a current beneficiary of a financial and technical assistance from the PRDP with the ongoing implementation of the P35.7-million Enhancement of Production, Processing and Marketing of High-Quality Abaca Fiber, according
to Pacquiao.

She said the cooperative was expecting a boost in its production and marketing.

From this PRDP assistance, the cooperative bought 74 units of portable stripping and dyeing machines. The cooperative gets its supply from its members who are abaca farmers.

Under the PRDP assistance, an abaca enterprise would operate across the province with six clusters. Two clusters would cover Kiamba, and one from each town of Maitum, Maasim, Alabel and Malungon, which would directly benefit 370 farmers, the PRDP said.

The cluster aims to produce a consolidated total of 107,000 kilograms of baled abaca every month, the PRDP added.

PRDP Operations in-charge Dante Tumaro said along with the high-quality baled abaca fiber, the main products for marketing include the tinagak, a special and fine abaca thread that comes from 20 percent of the interior pulp of the abaca plant.

Tinagak processing would employ 60 women members in Barangay Maligang, where a processing center would soon be built for them.

Aside from the processing center, the cooperative plans to buy a six-wheel hauling truck, one delivery truck, 56 units of heavy-duty spindle stripping machine, a pressing machine for abaca baling and a fork lift.

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Manuel Cayon has written about Mindanao for several national newspapers for more than two decades, the most part of it on conflict-reporting, and on the political, insurgency and civil rights front. He also scribbles on the religious and human rights issues for the Thailand-based Catholic news agency as well as he strings for several wire agencies. His stint with then TODAY newspaper started his business reporting obtaining in Mindanao, continuing to this day with BusinessMirror. He received citations and awards, including two Biotechnology awards for reporting. He was a fellow of the US International Visitors’ Program Leadership in 2007 on conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution. He attended college at the Mindanao State University and the Ateneo de Davao University

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