Abaka products make gains

>> 3/29/2009

Abaca is the One Town One Product (OTOP) of Natonin, Mountain Province. According to Benjamin Gayudan, DTI's Senior Trade and Development Specialist, people here did not know that the plant they call “fuwi” or what they call “saba chonggo” is abaca. There is also the belief that monkeys were responsible in spreading the abaca in the forests of Natonin.

People then made ropes out of the “saba chonggo” to tie cattle. It was in 1999 when an entrepreneur, Arnold Timmangao stripped fibers and made ropes for sale during the trade fair. DTI brought fibers to Fiber Industrial Development Authority (FIDA) for evaluation as a material for paper making. FIDA confirmed later that it is abaca.

Arang Multipurpose Cooperative initially consolidated the marketing of the abaca products in Natonin where government assistance was channeled. Eight years after, there are now four abaka stripping industries developed from members of Arang MPC.
Some 200 jobs were created with 78 direct workers and 15 indirect workers as abaca farmers, abaca converters, and handicraft producers. Workers are found in the barangays of Saliok, Banawel, Natonin Poblacion, Banao, Kadaklan, and Lunas. At least 40 workers from Bicol are employed where they also teach the art of abaka stripping to Natonin farmers and strippers.

Estimated production of abaka is at 150 tons planted in 900 hectares with current production capacity of 40.9 tons per year.

Abaka products including abaca fibers, twisted abaca fibers such as ropes, bags and fashion accessories generated sales at P1.35 million in 2007, Gayodan said. Abaka fiber sells at 70 per kilo. Natonin abaka farmers sell more of abaka fiber rather than bags and accessories. Making fine abaka by-products is a craft that Natonin craftsmen still have to learn, he said. Natonin Fiber Crafts and Trading is attempting to go into production of fashion accessories such as bags.

The municipal local government unit of Natonin provides sponsored product launching while the provincial LGU provided fund assistance for technology development.

Project coordination and marketing promotion is facilitated by DTI. Technology development is also extended by DTI, FIDA and Central Cordillera Agricultural Program (CECAP). CECAP provided a stripping machine and a warehouse for the Natonin abaka workers.

Nearby Barlig specializes in rattan made backpacks called pasiking or sangi.


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