The Philippine Abaca Industry: Status, Market Potential, Priority Issues and Directions

Flordeliza A. Lantican

Abstract


Abaca, known worldwide as Manila hemp, thrives well in some parts of the Philippines given their good soil types and climatic condition. It provides livelihood to abaca farmers and manufacturers, generates employment in the abaca manufacturing industry and contributes foreign exchange earnings to the country's economy. In 2006, total export earnings from abaca fibers and manufactures reached US$ 90.68 million. The country trades five types of Philippine abaca products in the world, namely: fiber, pulp, cordage, yarns and fabrics, and fiber craft. For the period 1995-2006, the introduction of synthetic and other cheaper natural materials, trade liberalization and global crisis have changed the demand structure of abaca fiber and other products in the domestic and export markets. On the other hand, several typhoons and pest and diseases that have adversely affected abaca production in the traditional growing areas have led to the opening of new abaca farms in less prone to typhoon and disease-free areas particularly in Mindanao starting in the mid 2000. The Department of Agriculture through the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) supports this initiative as a productivity-enhancing measure to increase the supply of abaca. Considering these developments, it is important to provide an update of the abaca industry focusing on the status, market potential, priority issues and suggested directions to further develop the industry.

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