By Edna A. Bagadiong
VIRAC, Catanduanes --- This island province has the biggest share of abaca production in the country as it has the capacity to supply 40 percent needed by the Philippine market alone.
The province has 212 abaca-producing barangays covering a combined land area of 33,186 hectares located in 11 municipalities that can achieve an average annual production of 647 kilograms per hectare.
These important facts were underscored during the “Abaca Industry Economic Forum” held at Rakdell Inn here last June 28. The forum was conducted by the local office of Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA).
PhilFIDA Executive Director Kennedy T. Costales said the forum sought to discuss with the abaca industry partners the abaca fiber industry performance, trends, prospects, and opportunities.
In his previous visit to Catanduanes, Costales said PhilFIDA is committed to helping abaca farm operators and farmers in their effort to double their income every harvest season.
He said he is tasked by the Department of Agriculture to cover the deficit of 35,000 metric tons of abaca in the global market.
The other topics tackled by PhilFIDA speakers during the event were the regulatory-related issues such as abaca supply and quality requirement of pulp manufacturer; measures to determine and regulate spurious fibers; and the undesirable effects of adultering abaca towards product quality.
Aside from abaca industry operators, top national and local government officials like Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento and Catanduanes Governor Joseph C. Cua attended the forum.