Eastern Visayas abaca output improves in 1st half of 2016

ABACA production in Eastern Visayas has slightly increased during the first six months of the year, but it is still a long way to go to restore its high production after more than a decade of disease infestation.

Data from the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFida) showed that the region abaca farms produced 5,154 kilograms of fiber from January to June. This is 15.65 percent higher than the 2015 first semester’s 4,457,452 kilograms yield.

Leyte province posted the highest output increase at 105.29 percent from 286,000 kilograms in 2015 to 587,125 kilograms this year.

Southern Leyte had a yield of 878,250 kilograms during the first half of 2016, or 49.46 percent higher than the 587,625 kilograms harvested in the same period last year.

Northern Samar recorded a production of 3,373,750 kilograms from January to June or 10.96 percent higher than the 3,040,375 kilograms yield last year.

A minimal 3.5 percent growth was recorded in Samar province from 197,375 kilograms to 204,275 kilograms.

In contrast, Eastern Samar suffered a 71.42 percent loss from 311,000 kilograms in the first semester of 2015 to 88,875 kilograms this year.

Likewise, Biliran’s output fell by 35.43 percent from 35,077 kilograms to 22,650 kilograms.

“Overall, the region’s production has improved after years of implementation of abaca disease eradication program and many farmers have started replanting abaca,” said PhilFida Eastern Visayas Regional Director Wilardo Sinahon.

The higher output in Leyte and Southern Leyte provinces, according to PhilFida, is a good indication that the region is on the road to recovery after abaca mosaic and bunchy top diseases have been wreaking havoc about half of the region’s farms.

“This is the first time that the two provinces recorded a remarkable production increase after years of steady output decline,” Sinahon added.

In 2002, Southern Leyte was the country’s top abaca producer. The destructive disease had pulled down its ranking to 10th place this year. Leyte used to be in the third spot, but now it slipped to 14th top producing province.

“For this year, only 60 percent of our 46,360 hectares of abaca farms are productive and 40 percent needs rehabilitation,” Sinahon added.

Due to massive infestation, the region’s output dropped to 8,418 metric tons in 2015 from 29,444 metric tons in 2003.

The PhilFida confirmed that some of the region’s 31,871 farmers abandoned their farm and some shifted to planting other crops.

Abaca fiber is a raw material for manufacturing of electrolytic (condenser) paper, high grade decorative paper, Bible paper, dissolving pulp, tea bags, coffee filters, meat and sausage casings, special art papers, cable insulation papers, adhesive tape papers, lens tissues, mimeograph stencil base tissues, and carbonizing tissues. (PNA)