By Philippine News Agency
The Department of Agriculture (DA)–Caraga is building a P15-million abaca fiber warehouse with drying area in Santiago, Agusan del Norte in a bid to boost abaca fiber production and meet the increasing market demand.
The San Isidro Upland Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SIUFMULCO) gained funding support from the DA’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) for its abaca fiber production and trading enhancement project with a total approved project cost of PHP31 million, of which PHP16 million is for the enterprise development component.
“Our membership has increased in the cluster areas since we started working for the realization of this project. Surely, many abaca farmers can benefit with this project,” said Leonora Mila, General Manager of SIUFMULCO.
SIUFMULCO has five clusters in selected municipalities all over Agusan del Norte with a total membership of at least 600 abaca farmers. These clusters are operating in the municipalities of Santiago, Nasipit, RTR, Kitcharao and Cabadbaran City.
Farmers in the areas often encounter challenges with drying and stripping since the weather is unpredictable and the machine they have is old and at times, the unavailability of an authorized person to do the stripping.
All these concerns will be met because of the interventions provided by the project.
Planting materials, organic fertilizer, nursery and stripping machines will be equally distributed to the cluster areas as part of the provision of the project package.
“With this project, farmers will be more inspired and idler lands will be planted with abaca,” Mila added.
Post-harvest facilities such as baling machine, forklift, wood pallets and push carts to enhance production of quality fiber were also included in the package.
Two hauling trucks, moisture meter, and weighing scales would also support the efficient marketing and trading activities.
“This is the kind of project we need in the province. Our goal is not just to help, but also to encourage and influence other farmers to do more,” said Agusan del Norte Provincial Board Member Victor Carmona.
The facility will then serve as the standard grading and baling center accredited by the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA).
With this, SIUFMULCO is expecting more abaca traders coming from other provinces in Caraga, including neighboring regions from Davao and Northern Mindanao because of the expansion of the abaca project.
Abaca is a great demand in the world market today since its material is being used for making security papers, paper money, ropes, insulators and other handicraft items.
The DA, under the leadership of Secretary Manny Piñol, has been keen on reviving the abaca industry considering its potential in the local and global market.