USAID, through its Protect Wildlife project and the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, continues to support abaca farmers in Maasim, Sarangani through a training in tinagak processing held last July 14 to 16.
The United Maligang Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative was tapped to teach 24 participants from three farmers’ associations how to process fine-quality abaca fiber into a continuous thread called tinagak. Commonly made by hand by indigenous T’boli women, tinagak is the thread of choice for weaving the traditional t'nalak cloth and other abaca handicrafts.
The farmers learned how to package tinagak thread into bundles and operate an abaca spindle stripping machine. They also learned the basics of selecting, harvesting and extracting escuhido or white abaca fiber, which is highly sought after both locally and abroad. Escuhido that is processed into tinagak thread can increase incomes of farmers significantly, who can sell it at 800 to 1,000 pesos per kilo, as compared to selling raw abaca fiber at 100 pesos per kilo.
The participants worked together to develop their respective group’s manual of operations and maintenance of their abaca spindle stripping machines, which they had received through the W-GDP Initiative.
USAID’s support for abaca-farming communities in Sarangani’s Mount Busa key biodiversity area—together with those of partners from Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority and Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation Incorporated—aims to promote profitable and biodiversity-friendly community enterprises, while opening more economic opportunities for women. The livelihood support comes at a fitting time when many rural communities are hard hit by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (PWP/ May Anne Ramos)