MARAWI CITY (PIA)--Upon realizing the opportunities that lay in the abaca industry, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism (MTIT) encouraged officers of different abaca farming cooperatives to come together to form the Lanao del Sur Abaca Federation in response to the industry’s speedy ascension into one of the top industries in the municipality of Piagapo.
Shortly after their foundation, the cooperatives set up substations for their products in Bobot village for easier delivery to their clients in Balo-i. Some villages, like Basak, are located slightly far off, and their damaged roads only made it harder for them to make trips to their clients. By setting up substations, the federation ensured that no cooperative was left behind during deliveries.
They also shared that for some time back when they first started in the industry, most of them also struggled with getting seedlings, but with the help of the MTIT and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), they stepped in and provided them with abaca seedlings to help them out.
Once planted, it usually takes around eight months to a year before the fibers can be harvested and sent off to their client, NewTech Pulp Inc., in Balo-i.
Ever since entering the industry, countless farmers have found stable livelihoods in abaca farming and opened opportunities for their families, like the chance for their children to pursue their formal education. Some of the members of the federation have actually put their children through college because of it, while others are pursuing opportunities that they would never have had the chance to because of financial hurdles.
The MTIT is also currently working with a five-year Abaca Industry Roadmap Technical Working Group (AIR-TWG), aiming to strengthen abaca production and make our products more competitive in the international market. This includes market matching and providing farmers with skills training and livelihood programs, among other things.
As the abaca industry continues to move forward, the federation expressed its dedication to continuing to produce high-quality fibers to become one of the country’s top 5 suppliers. They do this not just for themselves but for the rest of the farming communities in Lanao del Sur. (PJF/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)