Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans (ISPs) Platform

Abaca Industry Profile

Abaca, also known as Manila Hemp with the scientific name Musa Textilis, is a natural leaf fiber species of banana grown as a commercial crop native in the country. Its leaf stems are harvested for its strongest natural fiber that possesses valuable properties such as buoyancy, high porosity, high tensile and folding strength, and is resistant to saltwater damage. The Philippines, as the world’s top exporter of abaca, supplies 85 percent of the global abaca fiber production and earns US$80 million per year. Based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as of 2019, Bicol Region remained the top abaca producer with 28.94 thousand metric tons or 40.1 percent contribution to the total abaca production, followed by Eastern Visayas and Davao Region with 17.5 percent and 12.5 percent shares, respectively. Bicol Region also had the largest area planted for abaca, with 43.16 thousand hectares in 2019. With its durability, flexibility, and resistance to saltwater damage, it is commonly used in fishing lines and nets, ropes, and twines. Other applications of abaca involve the use of it as a material in manufacturing bags, carpets, diapers, pill coatings, and surgical masks.

 

Problems in the Industry

One of the most significant problems that abaca faces is natural calamities. These calamities, such as typhoons, cause an increase in the production cost, increasing the final products’ price. The rise and spread of pests and disease infestations like bakbak is also a common issue in the industry resulting in poor fiber quality. 

Other constraints include the following: 

  • Insufficient supply of suitable abaca planting materials; 
  • Lack of supply caused by the diseases of the crops; 
  • Short supply of replanting practices; 
  • Low frequency of harvest; general lack of facilities for transport and drying; 
  • Lack of support in the product marketing and promotional materials; and 
  • Lack of financial capability of abaca.

ISP for Abaca

The ISP  for abaca aims to improve and aid in sustaining the country’s stand as the major producer and source of abaca through making available quality fiber and planting materials, value-adding products, and eventually increasing farm productivity, thereby increasing the farmers’ income as well.

Strategic R&D

Strategic R&D is DOST-PCAARRD’s banner program comprising all R&D activities that are intended to
generate outputs geared towards maximum economic and social benefits

Technologies

Products, equipment, and protocols or process innovations developed to improve productivity, efficiency,
quality, and profitability in the agriculture and aquatic industries, and to achieve sustainable
utilization and management of natural resources

Abaca stripping machines

With the abaca stripping machine, four persons can harvest one hectare of abaca plantation in 7-8 days. It weighs only 93 kg and can be dismantled and carried in areas...

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Technology Transfer Initiatives

Technology transfer initiatives ensure that the outputs of R&D and innovations are transformed
into viable and applicable technologies that help intended users

Capacity Building

Capacity building efforts of DOST-PCAARRD seek to develop and enhance the R&D capabilities of researchers
and academic or research institutions through graduate assistantships & non-degree trainings
and development and/or upgrading of research facilities

Infrastructure Development

Manpower Development

Policy Research & Advocacy

Analysis of policy concerns and advocacy of science-informed policies ensures that the AANR policy environment is conducive for S&T development and investments
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Competitiveness of Philippine Abaca Industry under the ASEAN Economic Community

Abaca production in the Philippines was competitive under export trade and import substitution scenarios. Exporting abaca is an excellent opportunity for the country to earn foreign exchange since the Philippines can compete globally. To sustain the country’s competitiveness in abaca, yield (22.56 mt/ha) must not decline by 82 percent, or domestic cost must not increase by 104 percent.

Reference:

Lapiña, G. F. and Andal, E. T. (2017). ASEAN Economic Community: Opportunities and Challenges for the Crops Sector. Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines: Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources