PRDP-funded abaca enterprise in Catanduanes sees bright prospects after ECQ
VIRAC, CATANDUANES – “Ang abaca plant ay hindi naman apektado ng pandemic. Once na maalis na itong ECQ, back to normal. Napakalaking produce niyan kasi napakaganda ng tanim ngayon ng abaca. Makaka-bounce back kami. Napakaraming ani niyan. Magdo-double time ang mga abacaleros niyan.” This is the optimistic foresight of Anita L. Tasarra, chairperson of the Pinoy Lingap Damayan Cooperative (PLDC) Board of Directors (BOD) for the Abaca Fiber Processing and Trading Enterprise (AFPTE) once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted.
Immediately after the ECQ was implemented, the PLDC donated P50,000 to the local government unit of Virac, where majority of its farmer-members are located. The Management is also planning to offer P5,000 loan assistance to its members who solely depend on abaca as source of income.
In a phone interview, Tasarra noted that this was made possible by applying their learnings from the training on Disaster Resiliency and Business Continuity provided by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) to its enterprise development (I-REAP) subprojects.
She shared that the Project’s risk management training enabled them to become smart in dealing with situations that require urgent actions and decisions.
Tasarra added that the complete delivery of PRDP interventions to the I-REAP subproject had boost their sales since July 2019. Hence, they were able to gain a gross income worth P1.84 million as of February 19, 2020 and save an amount which they can now use to financially support their abaca farmer-members while the ECQ is enforced.
“Natutunan namin talaga na parating may reserba para sa kapakanan ng mga miyembro. Yun ang dapat uunahin talaga. Anoman ang mangyari, may nakareserbang tulong,” she said.
Meanwhile, according to PRDP-Bicol I-REAP Head, Adelina A. Losa, the DA has already facilitated ease of doing business by appealing to the LGUs and national government agencies to allow them to operate. This is in accordance with the Memorandum dated March 27, 2020 issued by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) Executive Director, Kennedy T. Costales, which allows activities, production and operation of enterprises relating to fibercrop products, by-products, and semi-processed products, and primary fibercrop processing equipment.
The said memo is supplemental to an earlier issuances by the DA Secretary, William D. Dar, which implement the Food Resiliency Protocol and expands its coverage.
On March 28, 2020, Acting Governor Shirley A. Abundo issued an advisory that provides the guidelines for fiber crop production and enterprise activities categorized as agricultural or farming activities for the province.
The AFPTE, a fully operational I-REAP subproject worth P10.21-million, is being implemented by the PLDC that engages in abaca fiber processing and trading as well as trading of bacbac or dried leafsheaths of abaca plant and abaca wastes. It also serves over 3,500 abaca farmer-suppliers from all municipalities in the province.
In compliance with the ECQ enforced in Luzon, the PLDC temporarily halted its operation to secure the health of its workforce and observe the protocols particularly the curfew hours.
Natural fibers like abaca, is recognized as one of the main components in the production of much-needed end-products to support the government efforts in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
In an article entitled “Face mask and abaca on COVID-19 pandemic,” by licensed pharmacist and university instructor, Teresa May Bandiola, published in dailyguardian.com, she highlighted that abaca, which is considered as the sturdiest among plant fiber, is used in producing medical fabrics for face masks and medical gowns as well as in manufacturing non-woven hospital linens and bedsheets. – Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V