The German government’s international development cooperation arm Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and wholly Filipino-owned Manila Cordage Co. (MANCO) based in Calamba City, Laguna province are partnering to sustain local production of abaca, an indigenous crop that’s among the Philippines’ top dollar earners.
GIZ’s Forest and Climate Protection Panay II program principal advisor Dr. Klaus Schmitt and MANCO chairperson and president Roberto Fernandez recently signed the agreement promoting sustainable production, management and marketing of abaca from Panay Island, one of the country’s major producers of this crop.
According to the paper ‘Philippines Abaca Fiber Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2019’ by global market research and consulting company TechSci Research, the country produced 85 percent of the world’s abaca fiber in 2013.
The market for abaca is projected to grow by around 5.7 percent until 2019, the paper also said.
Abaca is made into rope, paper, furniture, clothing, jewelry, handicraft, bags, cosmetics, automobile dashboards and interiors as well as other products.
During the November 2015 Abaca Summit in Southern Leyte, however, industry players revealed Philippine abaca production notably declined in recent years due to prevalence of pests and diseases, lack of high-yielding and virus-resistant planting materials and poor technology adoption of farmers.
Other pressing issues haunting the industry include climate change and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration.
The German program will provide technical and financial assistance to abaca farmers, coordinate activities with relevant authorities and support project monitoring.
MANCO will provide its technical expertise and training, make high-quality planting materials available to farmers at cost, provide funding when applicable and purchase abaca fibers that meet this company’s requirements.
The partnership is expected to improve socio-economic conditions of local upland farmers.
Funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety through its International Climate Initiative, the GIZ project assists marginal farmers in protecting and rehabilitating degraded forest lands and their buffer zones through enrichment planting, assisted natural regeneration, agro-forestry and upland agriculture to increase their income while mitigating climate change and conserving the area’s rich biodiversity.
MANCO has been manufacturing and exporting abaca rope and twine for over 90 years.
With its European environmental partners, it supports abaca and rainforestation farming.
Rainforestation farming is a farming method Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte province conceptualized to restore, manage and rehabilitate degraded and secondary forests in protected areas and other appropriate forest land by expanding abaca farms in Panay Island’s uplands.