Both Congressman Hector Sanchez and Governor Joseph Cua expressed their 100% support for the Abaca Tuxy Buying Special Project (ABTSP) of the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA) which seeks to turn abaca farmers into entrepreneurs.
In his message read by a representative during the groundbreaking of ATBSP Fiber Processing Facility in Sabangan, Caramoran last June 23, 2021, Sanchez disclosed that once completed, the facility would mechanize the tuxying process and double the income of more than 100 abaca farmers in less time.
He cited PhilFIDA executive director Kennedy Costales’ projection that the facility would be able to process first-class abaca fiber currently priced at P120/kilo, with local farmers possibly earning anywhere from P1,000 to P4,000 per day.
“No longer would our youth be drawn to construction projects in the mainland and beyond; no longer will our abaca farmers remain poor; and no longer, will other provinces or nations poach our world-class abaca,” Cong. Sanchez declared in his message during the ceremony.
“Hindi man ako nakapunta sa ground breaking event kahapon ay ipinaabot ko ang aking lubos na suporta para sa ating mga abaca farmers, at pasasalamat sa Department of Agriculture, PHILFIDA, sa Caramoran Abaca Fiber Producers Cooperative (CAFPCO), sa barangay captain ng Sabangan na si Edison Martinez, LGU ng Caramoran, sa pamumuno ni Mayor Glenda Aguilar at Vice Mayor Chyrrel Barro, sa ating Gobernador na si Boboy Cua at sa iba pang ahensiya at mga opisyales na tumulong para maisakatuparan ito – sa tulong ng ating representative mula sa Congressional District Office,” he said.
For his part, Gov. Cua said that with an established abaca facility in Catanduanes, the quality of local hemp and its production will transcend into new heights.
“Most of all, our farmers now have the opportunity to participate in an industry with a comprehensive network and mechanism, which will influence them to become globally competitive,” the chief executive added.
A similar message of support was sent by TGP Partylist Rep. Jose Teves Jr., who is working with Cong. Sanchez in following up the release of the P121 million abaca rehab fund for the province.
The project, which is being piloted first in the country’s biggest abaca-producing province, aims to modernize the abaca tuxying process and to innovate the market for abaca. Three other facilities are planned for the island in the coming years.
According to PhilFIDA) Technical Assistance Division (TAD) officer-in-charge Orlando Cocal, the main function of the facility is to double the fiber yield with less time, as well as to group abaca farmers under one cooperative with a minimum of 100 members.
The P15M capital outlay for the project, which would be open 24/7, is allocated for warehouses, sleeping sheds, office spaces, trading centers, and a covered drying space.
It also includes 16-wheeler trucks and motorcycles that will retrieve abaca from the farmers in “collection hubs,” as well as deliver finished products to local processors, or for direct export.
As counterpart, the municipal government provided the one-hectare for the use of the PhilFIDA facility.
Another key point of the ABTSP is that its business model is designed in favor of the farmers, with the new process would entirely cutting out the middleman so that the profit would be split directly between the facility and the farmers.
PhilFIDA regional director Mary Anne Molina read the message of keynote speaker Costales, who emphasized that farmers can improve their take-home pay by almost three-fold, if they maximize at least a one-hectare plot of their land.
“This will be a total overhaul of the abaca industry, as the ATBSP is a business model for the farmers,” Costales added.
Under the Abaca Freefarmers Social Enterprise (AFSE) model, a 100-hectare abaca plantation with at least 100 farmers, complemented by a fully-mechanized abaca processing facility, would produce 300 to 630 tons of first-class fiber yearly valued from P36 million to nearly P76 million, he said.
With the pilot facility in Catanduanes projected to be completed by January 2022, Costales expressed hope that 500 more facilities could be established in abaca-producing areas around the country in the near future.
Members of the CAFPCO also underwent a two-day Farmers Forum to discuss the project and how it would be operated.
PhilFIDA officials, including newly-designated Provincial Fiber Officer Roberto Lusuegro, also led the launching of the National Abaca Mapping Survey in Catanduanes which will be manned by 15 team leaders and 150 enumerators hired locally under the Natural Fiber Survey and Mapping Project (NFSMP).
The project, which was supposed to start last April 2021, will validate the actual area planted to abaca in the province, with its location to be marked through geo-tagging.