P5-M gov’t aid helps IP women boost abaca production in Surigao Sur

By Alexander Lopez

May 29, 2024, 3:35 pm

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BUTUAN CITY – A group of indigenous people (IP) women in the Surigao del Sur town of Lanuza is expanding its market after the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Program (DA-PRDP) provided members with upgraded tools to enhance abaca production.

The 68-strong Kababayenhan Alang sa Malamboong Panginabuhian or KAMAANAN (Women for Progressive Livelihood) is led by Myrna Opitan, whose members belong to the Manobo tribe and are presently engaged in an abaca fiber processing and marketing project supported by the DA-PRDP.

The group is based in Barangay Pakwan, Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, where most residents are engaged in upland farming, particularly abaca production.

“Our engagement with the DA-PRDP started in 2023 when we presented our proposal for abaca production and marketing,” Crisella Opitan, a member of the organization, said in an interview on Wednesday.

She expressed gratitude to the DA-PRDP for the PHP5 million support provided to their project last May 24, which consisted of eight mobile abaca strippers, four motorcycles, a hauler truck, and a capitalization of PHP426,883.

“Now our consolidation operations can reach even in the remotest areas with the use of these motorcycles and a hauler truck to buy and transport the abaca products of our farmers for processing,” Opitan said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DA-PRDP said providing post-harvest equipment will enable KAMAANAN to increase and improve their abaca products for the market.

“As the association continues to grow, it is expected to play a greater role in developing the industry within the province of Surigao del Sur,” the DA-PRDP said.

In the same statement, KAMAANAN chair Opitan recounted the difficulties they experienced in marketing their hand-stripped abaca products, especially amid price issue.

“We stopped tending our farms because we struggled to find buyers for our abaca. One buyer in San Miguel (Surigao del Sur) priced every kilo of machine-stripped abaca fiber at PHP18, while hand-stripped abaca went for PHP8 per kilo,” she said.

With the stripping machines provided by DA-PRDP, the group can now price their abaca fibers at PHP70 per kilo, she added.

The DA-PRDP said KAMAANAN is also gearing up to establish a training center for handicraft-making in their village. (PNA)