Villar bill seeks to declare Catanduanes as Abaca Capital of PH

Published January 29, 2021, 11:44 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Cynthia Villar has filed a bill seeking to declare the province of Catanduanes as the “Abaca Capital of the Philippines.”

(PNA photo by Roel Amazona / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In filing Senate Bill No. 1748, Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said Catanduanes has been the country’s top abaca producer and made the country the “top producer of abaca in the world.”

“The abaca harvested in the province of Catanduanes is even higher than the production of Ecuador, the second biggest abaca producer in the world after the Philippines,” Villar said.

Citing data from the Department of Agriculture, she said that from 2013 to 2019, the Bicol Region produced a total of 22,987 metric tons of abaca fiber, which comprised 37 percent of the national production. She said 90 percent of the region’s abaca production was from Catanduanes.

She said her bill would “promote and support the abaca industry of the province, while safeguarding it from destruction of plant diseases and calamitous events.”

“It is but proper and apt that we officially name Catanduanes as the abaca capital of our country because it really is ever since. Once passed, the bill will also provide the province with additional government support and allocation. That will help them to further grow and develop the abaca industry to benefit the farmers and all the people who depend on it for livelihood,” she added.

Villar said the abaca sector contributes P4.7 billion to the country’s economy annually, “so it deserves all the support it needs.”

“About 97 percent of all the total abaca produced in the country are exported as pulp, raw fiber, handloom fabric, or handicraft. So, it is a high value agricultural commodity and top dollar earner. Demand for it is even increasing during the pandemic because abaca is the main raw materials for masks, PPE, and other medical or healthcare-related products,” she said.

Abaca is also an important raw material for tea bags, coffee filters, food packaging, textile, clothing, shoes, bags, wall coverings, sheets, and paper money, Villar said.

“Aside from its economic contribution, fiber from abaca also has great environmental benefits,” she added.