Programs and interventions aimed at tripling the country’s abaca output to 221,238 metric tons (MT) in the next four years would require a budget of P5.633 billion, according to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFida).
In the Philippine Abaca Roadmap (PAR) 2018-2022, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror, the government said it intends to expand abaca plantations to 239,666 hectares from the current 180,302 hectares.
Under the road map, the PhilFida would expand abaca plantations by 39,364 hectares this year; 10,000 hectares in 2019; and 9,000 hectares in 2020.
The PhilFida is targeting to rehabilitate some 50,000 hectares of abaca plantation in four years: 30,000 hectares in 2018; 10,000 hectares in 2019; and 9,000 hectares in 2020.
The attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) would expand plantations in the Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas—the top abaca-producing regions in the Philippines. The PhilFida would rehabilitate 89,558 hectares of abaca growing-areas in the Bicol region and 19,214 hectares in Eastern Visayas.
“Extensive abaca expansion and rehabilitation efforts will be undertaken from 2018 to 2019 to meet the targeted 239,666 hectares of total abaca areas by 2022. Bulk of the expansion and rehabilitation activities will be conducted in Regions 5 and 8 and in the regions of Mindanao,” the PAR 2018-2022 read.
The road map indicated that the rehabilitation and expansion of abaca plantations would hike output to 76,385 MT this year; 79,576 MT in 2019; 117,519 MT in 2020; 176,715 MT in 2021; and 216,761 MT in 2022.
The annual abaca output of the Philippines is pegged at 72,734.71 MT.
“In terms of targets, a total of 69,364 hectares in 2018 and 44,167 hectares in 2019 will be planted to reach an estimated total abaca fiber demand of 160,444 MT in 2020 with an increase of 12 percent annually. Corporations and farmers have committed to plant abaca in more areas depending on the availability of planting materials,” the PAR read.
“By 2022, with the targeted farm expansion and rehabilitation of 146,248 hectares, an estimated fiber production of 216,761 MT will be attained,” it added.
To reach its targeted output, the PhilFida would need at least 69.36 million of planting materials this year; 30.92 million next year and 30.92 million in 2020.
“[The main problems] of the PhilFida are its dependence on tissue culture planting materials, low seedbank seedling production and disease-infected planting materials. Currently, the PhilFida can only produce a maximum of 500,000 planting materials versus a requirement of 146.28 million,” the PAR read. “It would take the industry about 292 years to acquire said requirement.”
To address this problem, the PhilFida would shift to abaca seed-derived planting materials from tissue culture production.
“Use abaca seed-derived planting materials in response to the needs of the clients. In order to cover the 146.26-million planting material requirement, a total of 4.17 tons of seeds are needed [based] on an assumption of 35,000 seeds per kilogram,” the blueprint read.
The attached agency of the DA plans to establish more nurseries per region and encourage local nursery operators and local government units to go into the production of abaca seedlings.
The PhilFida would also eradicate abaca diseases like bunchy-top, brat mosaic and mosaic and replant the crop in disease-free areas.
The agency said funds would be needed to improve abaca trade performance, for its fiber processing and utilizing program, and for research and development.
These interventions, the PhilFida said, would allow the Philippines to maintain its status as the world’s top abaca producer and exporter.