Abaca farmers of Sitio Datal Basak in Maasim, Sarangani received four spindle stripping machines used in the production of abaca fiber on June 8, 2020, thanks to the partnership of USAID’s Protect Wildlife project, Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation Incorporated, and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority. The new machines could not have come at a better time as these would help boost the livelihoods of indigenous T’boli communities in the area amidst quarantine restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
By using these portable machines, abaca farmers belonging to the Holic Farmers Association, Moto Ladal Farmers Association, and Datal Basak Upland Farmers Association can produce abaca fibers up to 20 times faster than the traditional manual method. It also greatly improves the quality of abaca fiber and increases its volume by up to 72 percent, helping farmers to command a better price in the market. These kinds of improvement can help abaca farmers in Sarangani to respond to the growing demand for and expanding use of abaca fiber, such as in the production of medical-grade and eco-friendly face masks and personal protective equipment.
The USAID’s Protect Wildlife project has been working with partners in Sarangani province to support local abaca enterprises and promote sustainable and conservation-based farming practices among abaca farmers, particularly in the Mount Busa area. The partnership emphasizes the need to conserve Mount Busa and its remaining forests, where abaca is also being cultivated.
In Sitio Datal Basak, abaca farmers are attending a USAID-supported farmers’ field school, which teaches conservation concepts and practices and abaca cultivation technologies. The community is also one of the beneficiaries of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative that aims to support local women and their rural enterprises. (PWP/ Lawrence San Diego)