PhilFIDA begins abaca rehab project; Red Cross, DA consider proposals

With P5 million funding, the Philippine Fiber Industry Authority (PhilFIDA) has started implementing the rehabilitation of typhoon-damaged abaca farms in Catanduanes.

According to Eligio Sabalas, Provincial Fiber Officer of its Catanduanes extension office, the project intends to provide technical and financial assistance to PhilFIDA abaca farmers-cooperators through the “rePlant Abaca Now, Pay Later” scheme in the rehabilitation of the damaged farms and in rebuilding their major source of livelihood.

The rehab project will cover a total of 2,150 hectares of affected abaca areas in the province, particularly those covered by the Abaca Disease Management Project (ADMP), including prospective Abaca Tuxy Buying Special Project (ATBSP) target areas and farm holdings of less than a hectare.

In the rehabilitation of ATBSP abaca farms, 100 farmers will be given P5,000 labor incentive each for replanting at least 640 abaca per farmer.

In the rehabilitation of ADMP treated areas, around 1,000 affected farmers will receive P2,500 labor incentive each for replanting at least 320 abaca per farmer.

On the other hand, a P2,000 labor incentive per farmer will be granted to 950 affected farmers with small abaca farms for replanting at least 320 abaca plants per farmer. They must belong to the poorest of the poor as certified by their Punong Barangays, with no other source of livelihood except for abaca farming.

The initial list of recipient abaca farmers include 100 from the Caramoran barangays of Sabangan, Panique, Mauwi, Tubli and Camburo under the ATBSP; 229 farmers from the Baras barangays of Genitligan, JM Alberto, Agban, and Puraran, as well as 137 farmers from the Caramoran barangays of Obi, Salvacion, Bulalacao, Milaviga, Mabini, Datag East and Sabloyon, both under the ADMP target areas.

Supposed to be implemented this November and December 2020, the PhilFIDA project will require the beneficiaries to clear their farms of felled trees, twigs and debris; harvest tumbles and twisted stalks; extract fiber; gather corms from floaters; and, replant vacant hills.

The typhoon damage report submitted by Sabalas, the province’s abaca industry sustained a total damage of P1.15 billion, based on the 12,027 hectares of totally damaged abaca farms or half of the estimated effective area of 24,054 hectares tilled by 13,777 farmers.

He has also submitted to the central office a proposal for a similar abaca rehab project costing P129,131,391.00 to be jointly implemented by PhilFIDA and the provincial government.

Under the “Cash for Work” scheme, each of the 13,777 farmers will be given financial assistance of P8,000 per hectare to enable them to rehabilitate their farms and provide immediate source of food and income.

They will also be given P783 worth of vegetable and leguminous seeds and chemicals as alternative source of food and income.

The project envisions that the replanting of over 29,000 hectares with at least 5.5 million abaca suckers would generate at least 1,722 metric tons of abaca fiber on the initial harvest, with an estimated value of P120 million.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross is still considering how to provide interventions for affected abaca farmers in the province, with the allocation of P10,000 each for 1,000 farmers as the initial proposal.

Through a detailed assessment, the humanitarian organization hopes to provide early recovery intervention through the cash crop approach, build the capacity for improved institutional learning, support developmental livelihood projects, develop multiple skills among farmers to address existing gaps, and strengthen their financial literacy as well as that of community-based financial institutions.

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