Paquibato abaca farmers avail support from PRDP
“I hope that the government will see our hard work in finding ways to support our brothers and sisters in Ata Tribe.”
Raian Antawan, chairman of Tapak Farmers Marketing Cooperative (TFMC), firmly believes in his dream for the Ata tribe to acquire sustainable livelihood in Paquibato District through abaca production and marketing.
TFMC started as an association with only a handful of farmer members until in 2013, they decided to upgrade into a cooperative until gaining official accreditation by the City Government of Davao in 2017.
Their cooperative is now composed of more or less 120 members where 98% are members of the Ata tribe and 2% of bisaya.
It was in 2014 when they discovered that abaca could be a good alternative source of income after their corn and upland rice were attacked by rats that left their farm devastated. From corn and rice, they shifted to abaca after they found out that rats do not attack them and that abaca fetches a higher buying price of P20.00 compared to corn which was only P7.00 at that time.
To date, abaca has become the coop’s primary commodity covering 87 hectares of their farm areas. They are supplying S2 abaca fibers (1st class fiber) to Ching Bee Trading Corporation in Panacan, Davao City with usual deliveries of about 2 tons of abaca fiber per month. The usual price ranges from P92-94.00 per kilo.
“Before, it was laborious for us to process the abaca and it required so much energy to strip the fibers. But processing has improved in quality and speed when the Department of Agriculture gave us stripping machines back in 2016. That’s why we really want to work on our abaca farming,” said Antawan.
With the growing demand on the volume of abaca from Ching Bee and another Japanese company buyer, TFMC availed the enterprise development project from the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project.
The “Abaca Processing and Marketing Enterprise Project” worth P10.82 million will provide them with four (4) post harvest facilities (storage and solar dryer) in the following four production areas in sitio Tapak Proper, Butay, Mangani, Panlawayan. There will be a total of seven (7) stripping machines provided for the four (4) facilities. The enterprise will procure a total of 1,500 MT and will produce a total of 150 MT of abaca fiber annually.
On the marketing aspect, the enterprise will procure one (1) tractor for hauling the abaca fiber from the production cluster areas to the consolidation sites in Tapak Proper and Butay. Also one (1) delivery truck will be procured for the marketing of abaca fiber from consolidation sites to market outlet/buyer.
“We are truly thankful that PRDP project reached out to us in our far-flung community. This project is really a big help to all the farmers here in Paquibato District especially here in our barangay. Aside from making our work faster, we can also ensure that we will be able to produce high quality abaca. Farmers will have more time for their families and provide for their needs,” added Antawan.
Aside from PRDP, other agencies like Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority also provided them assistance and training on processing abaca fiber.
As chairman, Antawan believes that the project would also change the lives of his fellow Ata where they no longer have to go to the city every December to ask for Christmas presents from people, and that through this project, their community will have a stable source of income and they would be able to live better lives. (Joy M. Montecalvo)