PhilFIDA Puts Spotlight on Abaca's Economic Impact at Western Visayas Stakeholders' Forum

Date Posted 25 October 2023

The Western Visayas Regional Satellite Office of the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA) organized a stakeholders' forum on October 24-26, 2023. The aim of the forum is to highlight the importance of various fibers, such as abaca, pineapple, silk, cotton, and others. The event is being participated by a diverse group of stakeholders including farmer-leaders, fibercrops exporters, processors, traders, representatives from National Government Agencies, Non-Government Organizations, and Local Government Units of Western Visayas. The forum took place at the ASU Review Center, Aklan State University, Banga, Aklan.

Today, the forum is focus for the abaca industry and its pivotal role in the Philippine economy. Despite being a non-food crop, abaca has proven to be a major source of livelihood for farmers and workers, particularly in the Western Visayas Region. Various issues raised by farmers, abaca growers, processors, exporters, and traders were addressed during the forum.

During her keynote address, DA Assistant Secretary and concurrent OIC Executive Director Velicaria-Guevarra commended the notable achievements of the Western Visayas region in abaca production. In 2022, Western Visayas became the sixth top abaca-producing region in the country, with Aklan province ranking as the fifth top abaca-producing province. Asec. Velicaria-Guevarra also expressed PhilFIDA's unwavering commitment to the growth and development of the abaca industry. The agency allocates a significant portion of its budget to abaca programs and projects, and 66% of their technical personnel are dedicated to implementing these initiatives. The goal is to sustain the country's global dominance in the abaca fiber market, as it currently supplies approximately 86% of the world's abaca fiber requirements.

“It is imperative that we continuously explore strategies to address the on going challenges in the abaca industry. Allow me to highlight some of these challenges. Firstly, we must strive to increase the production of high-quality fibers. This entails addressing various issues, including the availability of disease-free planting materials that yield true abaca fibers, and ensuring well-trained and committed fiber inspectors who are adequately supported with resources to enforce the rules, regulations, and standards on abaca good agricultural practices and fiber inspection. Additionally, we need to maintain continuous treatment of abaca areas with high disease incidence and conduct research that leads to the development of technologies for adoption by abaca farmers, among other initiatives. Secondly, we must work towards increasing the demand for abaca. This requires us to explore innovative uses for abaca and expand into new markets.” Asec. Velicaria-Guevarra expressed.

The forum was graced by several dignitaries, including 1st District of Aklan Congressman Carlito S. Marquez, represented by his Chief-of-Staff, Mr. Jess Marquez; Governor Jose Enrique M. Miraflores, represented by Engr. Alexys Apolonio, Provincial Agriculturist of Aklan; Libacao Municipal Mayor Charito I. Navarosa, represented by Sangguniang Bayan Member Honorable Alfred Paul Navarosa; DA Western Visayas Regional Executive Director Dennis R. Arpia; PhilFIDA RSO OIC Ms. Evelyn Cagasan; OIC- RO VII Joseph Salas; OIC- RO XI Engr. Irma Rodis; Mr. Joel Barquilla, OIC of the Regulatory Division; Ms. Concepcion Jocson, OIC of the Fiber Utilization and Technology Division; Engr. Emma Balabis, OIC of the Research Division; and Research Scientist, Dr. Leny Galvez.

The stakeholders' forum served as a significant initiative by PhilFIDA to showcase the potential of the abaca industry and garner support for its continued growth. PhilFIDA’s firm commitment to propel the abaca industry forward and ensure a prosperous economy is commendable.