The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) is seeking a PHP37.84 million budget to carry out a massive rehabilitation program of abaca farms in Eastern Samar province until 2021.

Of the total funding requirement, PHP7.55 million is meant for treatment of abaca diseases, PHP13.05 million for replanting, and PHP12.09 million for fertilization.

The remaining amount will be used for capability training and mobilization.

Wilardo Sinahon, PhilFIDA Eastern Visayas regional director, said on Wednesday that rehabilitation works would cover 1,650 hectares and benefit 900 farmers in poverty-stricken towns of Samar Island.

“The abaca industry in Eastern Samar has been damaged by diseases and natural calamities over the past years, which calls for massive and long-term rehabilitation,” Sinahon said.

PhilFIDA is pushing for inclusion of the proposed project in the post-disaster response funding of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to fast track budget releases.

Most of the covered farms are in the towns of Arteche, Dolores, and Oras tagged as focused areas for abaca.

“There will be a convergence as an effective anti-poverty mechanism that will aid poor farmers and cooperatives in attaining resiliency and sustainable livelihoods especially after the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013,” Sinahon said.

As preliminary steps to rehabilitation the industry in Eastern Samar, among the activities last year were the creation of the technical working group for abaca, conduct initial farm survey, held value chain analysis workshop, presented the roadmap to the Regional Development Council, conducted disease management trainings, and distributed 5,000 planting materials.

Eastern Visayas was the top fiber producer in the country until abaca disease wreaked havoc in many farms in the region in the early 2000.

Known globally as Manila hemp, abaca is processed into cordage, pulp and specialty paper and fibercrafts including handwoven fabric.

Last year, the Philippines earned more than USD100 million from abaca fiber shipments. Majority of export earnings came from abaca manufacturers such as pulp, cordage, yarns, fabrics and fibercraft.

Destinations of the country’s abaca fiber include United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, India, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, United States, and Canada. (PNA)