Friday, August 10, 2012

The Booming Abaca Industry of Janiuay

Long before the Spanish occupation, Filipinos have been growing Abaca. Endemic to the Philippines, it is a banana-like plant where its fiber is considered as the strongest among natural fibers and is commonly used for textile materials. For centuries, it has provided income to many Filipinos especially those living in the areas of Mindanao, Bicol and the Visayas.

Easily-grown in almost all types of soils and climate like ours, abaca is best grown in areas where the soil is rich in organic matter common in areas that are rolling to hilly or mountainous.

The municipality of Janiuay is now becoming one of the major abaca producers in Iloilo as production and interest from farmers to plant continue to improve. The industry in the town has improved as more and more famers especially in barangays Barasalon, Atimonan and Kanawilihan venture into abaca propagation.

The status of abaca industry is booming. There are now many farmers who want to plant abaca. The shift of interest of farmers to abaca is credited to its shorter maturity period compared to other high value crops.

The Tuburan Abacca Handicraft Association (TAHA) in barangay Tuburan, Janiuay, Iloilo is the leading promoter of livelihood projects on abaca production. Among its missions is to provide more employment and create more innovative products that will respond to the needs of its members and its market.

Organized in 2006, the association, then with 26 members started producing abaca fiber-based products that were marketed locally. It was in 2007 that the association became DTI-registered. At present, it has 33 members and presently headed by Barangay Captain Flora Ensolente. The association is currently producing fibercraft like mats, purses, bags, hats, placemats, high-grade decorative paper as art media, and all purpose decoratives perfect as gifts or souvenir items. The use of abaca fiber has long been recognized and the demand is continually growing.

Projects for the association are developed in partnership with other local government agencies. The municipal government of Janiuay work with government departments, local service providers and community workers to facilitate local planning and develop projects based on the needs of the community. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also pitched in by providing additional consultancy in the training and the transfer of knowledge and entrepreneurial perspectives of the community.

Abaca fibers are extracted by stripping off the outer sheath of the trunk of the abaca plant and pull out individual fibers. The length varies from three to nine feet or even longer, depending on the height of the plant. It is then stripped and scraped to remove the pulp. The fibers produced are then washed and dried. The color of the fibers extracted ranges from ivory white or in the shade of brown. The best grades of abaca fiber are fine and lustrous in texture; light beige in color and very strong.

Popularly known as Manila hemp in the international trade, 84% of the world’s abaca supply comes from the Philippines. At present, the country’s major markets are Japan, Europe, India, United States, the Middle East, and Korea. China is the biggest emerging market for abaca.

The abaca craft production project of the Tuburan Abacca Handicraft Association has gone a long way since it was launched with orders coming in from various parts of the province and the region. The municipality hopes more people will be interested in products that enable rural communities to see their livelihood in a different light.

Know more about Janiuay’s abaca production and its abaca crafts during the 8th Tumandok celebration on September 4, 2012 at the fountain area of Robinsons Iloilo. For more information, please contact (033) 5318719-Janiuay LGU trunkline and look for Miss Corel Locsin-Yap-Municipal Tourism Officer.


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