IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay—The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority in Zamboanga Peninsula has pushed for expansion of abaca farms to increase abaca fiber production in the region to meet the market demand, a local PFIDA official said.
Deogracias V. Maranga, Region 9 PFIDA assistant director, told media that the agency’s central office “has given us a target of 100 hectares for our regional abaca farm expansion program this year.”
He stressed, though, that aside from the national target assigned to the region, “We also aim for 1,000 hectares throughout our area for farm expansion under the SME abaca industry champion product development.”
Maranga added: “PHILFIDA is now also conducting grading and classification to ensure quality abaca fiber produced in Zamboanga Peninsula,” claiming that New Tech Pulp Inc., the country’s biggest market and pulp processor, “is demanding producers to have good quality of abaca pulp, since the company wants to produce quality papers as one of its by-products.”
Implementing Abaca Disease Management Program is now also a part of the agency’s farm development as the industry recently took a blow from infestation, Maranga said. He said the region recently phased out some abaca farms in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay to avoid infestation of nearby abaca farms which caused reduced fiber production last year to 529.66 metric tons from 644.86 metric tons in 2014 or a decline by 17.86 percent.
He, however, expressed optimism that with necessary initiatives now put in place, “We can bounce back from last year’s loss, saying the region’s abaca industry is currently in the right direction,” noting that the Philippines continues to be the world’s biggest abaca fiber producer with as much as 80 percent coming from the country.