In its second quarter meeting on May 25, 2022, the National Banner Program Committee on High-Value Crops – Fiber Crops (NBPC on HVC-Fiber Crops), discussed updates on industry issues like the supplemental budget proposal for the local government units to support local fiber production, the institutionalization of an abaca model farm, and improving the production and distribution of pest-controlling Trichogramma strips. 

The supplemental budget proposal for LGUs included funds for a multi-year mechanization project, maintenance of abaca plantations under coconut areas, a climate-smart field school on fiber crop production, and support for other fiber crops.

The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), in coordination with the Partido State University, is working on a three-hectare model farm for technology demonstration. Since no model farm has been established for abaca, this abaca model farm will include and improve current abaca production technologies, which in turn, would greatly benefit the industry.

The Committee also recommended to the Department of Agriculture, through the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, the creation of a Task Force for the monitoring of abaca-related malpractices, particularly the indiscriminate gathering and selling of “bakbak”, or dried abaca leaf sheaths. “Bakbak” is a perilous threat against the abaca industry, which could cease to exist in 7 years if the illegal practice continues. 

Also discussed were the updates on the Abaca Tuxy Buying Special Project (ATBSP), which is a unique marketing approach that aims to organize farmers nationwide as a cooperative that could sell directly to exporters and local processors, maximizing farmer profit in the production and trade of quality abaca fibers. Under the ATBSP, there is an ongoing construction of three buildings in Caramoran, Catanduanes, and procurement of vehicles, baling machines, and abaca stripping and decorticating machines.

The results of the committee’s recent meeting with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas were also discussed. BSP recommended the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) for the development of the fiber industry, and looking into possible research and development projects beyond market opportunities. 

The NBPC on HVC-Fiber Crops also discussed ways forward for the Abaca Industry Roadmap, updates on cotton and other fiber crop industries, and a recommendation for additional legislation providing budget appropriations for Catanduanes, which was recently declared as the Abaca Capital of the Philippines. | SMA