FIBER FROM PINEAPPLE LEAVES. Fresh pineapple leaves in Iloilo are processed using a decorticating machine to turn them into this fiber in this undated photo. According to the Department of Science and Technology, a decorticating machine has the capacity to process 70 to 90 kilograms of pineapple leaves per hour. (Photo courtesy of DOST-6)

MANILA – Around 50 farmers and 28 weavers in Iloilo have been benefiting from the science and technology intervention from the Department of Science and Technology in Western Visayas (DOST-6).

"The weaving industry in Miagao and Iloilo as a whole has given women an opportunity (for) livelihood, especially for those who can’t find any (job). Up to now, the hablon-making industry of Iloilo continues to thrive as the demand for hablon products continues to rise both in local and international markets," DOST-6 Director Rowen Gelonga told the Philippine News Agency Thursday.

The natural and blended fibers have a limited supply, but with the DOST-supported Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center (RYPIC) in Miagao, about 132,000 kilograms of yarns can be produced per year.

"It is expected that the hablon that are made with natural blended fibers have higher value and high demand both in local and global markets compared with those made with synthetic yarn," Gelonga said.

To further address the demand, as well as provide additional income for pineapple farmers and the weavers, the DOST-6 spent PHP571,500 on two pineapple decorticating machines, which were turned over to the town of Lemery and Passi City last month.

Decorating machines are used to strip fresh pineapple leaves, which are considered farm waste, into fibers.

Gelonga noted that this has provided the farmers with extra income since they process the leaves into fibers. The price of decorticated pineapple leaves or fiber ranges from PHP50 to PHP400 per kilo.

Aside from making spun yarn made from natural and locally-produced fibers, the DOST's intervention has also provided livelihood to women in the community.

"Barangay Baraclayan is one of the communities in Miagao where handloom weaving activity is the secondary source of income among residents. At present, Baraclayan Weavers Association has a total of 28 female members," Gelonga said. (PNA)