Standardization needed to sustain export of Bukidnon’s ‘hinabol’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 August)– Weavers of “hinabol” or abaca cloth in Bukidnon need to shape up and adhere to a common product standard for them to get more export orders, said Noemi Solia, manager of Lindungawan Showroom and Cafe, a hinabol trader based here.

Solia said that hinabol has huge export potentials but still largely remain untapped by Bukidnon weavers due to problems on standardization.

In 2011, about 100 weavers from six barangays in Impasug-ong and Malaybalay City were involved in the mass production of naturally-dyed hinabol after they obtained a 14,000-meter purchase order from United States department store chain Crates and Barrel.

Non-Timber Forest Products Task Force, the group helping Lindungawan market the communities’ products in Manila, cited in 2012 that the order was obtained through the marketing network of Custom Made Craft Center (CMCC) and Phildansk.

But the weavers only managed to produce about 4,000 meters of hinabol that passed the quality check and earned them around P800,000, Solia added.

The US department store chain ordered hinabol cut as table runners measuring 14 meters long and 2.33 meters wide.

She said they had the same fate in 2012. Out of the 6,000 meters ordered, they were able to deliver only 2,000 meters.

Solia noted that the weavers “have no problems producing the quantity.”

“But it took its toll in the quality of the hinabol,” she said, adding most of the weavers are still very traditional in their craft.

She cited that standardization is needed in the weaving method and even in the production and application of natural dyes.

Some weavers still need to learn to use standard measuring tools. Also, she added, the demand for mass production altered their traditional method of weaving the hinabol, which became difficult for some weavers.

Another problem also was the production of natural dyes, which the communities started to do again in 2005 after decades of neglect.

The US orders came in three colors – terra cotta produced from barks of mahogany; graphite from guava leaves; and natural color, also from guava leaves.

Solia said they need to familiarize with the process of extraction and production to produce standard natural dyes.

She cited that in the next three years, they will be experimenting on another natural dye color, indigo.

Solia noted that a separate natural dye production could be another industry that maybe developed to help Bukidnon’s hinabol weaving industry.

Lindungawan sees no resistance to product standardization among the indigenous weavers, according to her.

“But they are just slow in absorbing the standards,” she told the Strictly Business news conference Thursday.

The second of the two business news conferences scheduled every month for Strictly Business is dedicated to microeconomic issues among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bukidnon.

Solia cited that while in the process of standardization to meet export quality, they are also strengthening production methods to produce better hinabol products.

“Quality products command higher prices,” she added. Natural dyed hinabol costs about P175 per meter with a width of 16 inches. The same dimension costs about P145 for the hinabol that used synthetic color.

She admitted, however, that while the enterprise is already viable for the weavers, it still does not pay for the marketing support. Solia said that they still subsidize the salary of staff doing work for the hinabol trading.

Lindungawan is the marketing arm of the Fr. Vincent Cullen Tulugan Learning Development Center supported by the Diocese of Malaybalay’s Indigenous Peoples Apostolate.

The enterprise boasts of a production capacity of 3,000 meters of hinabol in three designs per month, produced by four weaving communities in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon and Malaybalay City.

According to their profile, they also produce 60 bottles per month of passion fruit juice, 60 bottles a month of citrus juice, and 2,000 packs a month of cassava chips.

She noted that they have already turned over the ownership and management of their food products to the HAMOG (Higaonon Anamas Malanday Olagdok Gagaw) Youth Group based in Hagpa, Impasug-ong town. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)