Gov?t calls for expansion of abaca plantations in Mindanao

Dr. Olympio Macarayan, regional director of the Fiber Industry Development Authority, urged farmers in Mindanao, including those whose lands were planted to coconut, to consider planting abaca. He announced they could help organize abaca farmers associations.

Macarayan, interviewed over DXRP Radyo ng Bayan Friday, said the drive was already backed by a number of local government units in southeastern and southwestern Mindanao.

He said they were also working out a cooperation arrangment with the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority.

Macarayan said abaca could be grown in coconut plantations but added that the plant could only grow in highly fertile soil. But he said that the advantage of abaca as an industry was that it would not require much standards as in export crop bananas.

He said, however, that abaca could not yet compete with the profitability of the banana crop.

He said FIDA could help provide farmers with initial seedlings and with technical support and said that the inviting feature of planting abaca was the increasing demand here and abroad of abaca fiber.

FIDA's call came a month after the monitoring of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that the volume of dried abaca and abaca raw fiber production in the Davao region has decreased.

The region  produced a total of 2,253.14 metric tons of abaca products as of June last year – lower than that of the same period in 2005 with 2,971 metric tons.