Date Posted March 2017.

Executive Director Victor “Touch” B. Prodigo and OIC-Deputy Executive Director Petronilo B. Jabay of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), met with Howard McCormick, Stuart Nixon and Bhavesh Soni of AHLSTROM and the members of the Philippine Fiber Exporter Association (PFEA) during a luncheon meeting in Makati City last February 24, 2017.  AHLSTROM is one of the biggest importers of abaca in the Philippines.  The company’s headquarter is in Helsinki, Finland and has processing plants in the United Kingdom and United States of America. AHLSTROM produces fiber-based material applications such as filters, medical fabrics, life science materials and diagnostics, wall coverings and sheets for food packaging.

According to AHLSTROM officials, abaca is one of the most important raw materials of the company used mainly for tea bags, coffee filters and meat casings. It is also utilized processed into medical fabrics for face masks and medical gowns.  The business grows at an average of 3-4% annually and is expected to use more volumes of Philippine abaca fibers. AHLSTROM is requesting PhilFIDA for a sustainable supply of quality abaca for their processing plants.

During the meeting, the group discussed the role of the PhilFIDA in helping the province of Catanduanes, the top producer of abaca in the country which was badly affected by Typhoon Niña.  The PhilFIDA is requested to provide assistance in rehabilitating the abaca areas damaged by the typhoon. 

Inquiries on how to improve the production of abaca on a hectare basis, with only 404 kilograms per hectare, was also raised.  The group was informed about the new planting technology that the PhilFIDA will be implementing wherein 3,000 kgs will be produced per hectare with a plant density of 4,000 per hectare compared to the usual planting density of 1,600 plants.

Executive Director Touch Prodigo also informed the group that President Rodrigo Duterte and the new Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Emmanuel Piñol, are very supportive of the abaca industry and pledged more funding to PhilFIDA for projects that will help increase abaca productivity and maintain the country’s role as the world’s biggest producer and supplier of abaca fibers worldwide.

Further, an updated Abaca Roadmap 2017-2022 is being finalized for the approval of President Duterte is expected to boost the production and export of the raw and processed abaca fibers. Among the programs included in the roadmap are the mass production of planting materials needed in the development of new abaca areas and rehabilitation of abaca farms, use of enzyme-based organic fertilizer to increase yield of abaca and for the treatment of abaca diseases, distribution and establishment of post-harvest equipment and facilities, research and development for new technologies and by-products, and improved regulation of the quality of abaca fibers.  Also, part of the activities under the Roadmap, the PhilFIDA shall assist exporters and farmer groups in the acquisition of sustainability certification of abaca farms in accordance to the international Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Standards through the Rainforest Alliance. On the issue of fiber quality, it was mentioned that the PhilFIDA will strictly enforce the grading standards of abaca in the baling stations all over the country.

The PFEA members present in the meeting were: Mr. Alex Tan, PFEA President; Messrs. Eddie, Square and Doy Tan of SC Tan; Messrs. Nelson Lim, Jon Carlson Lim,  Misses Charina and Anne  Lim of Ching Bee Trading Corporation, Miss Orpha Noveno, Carmi Garcia and Eric Mabalay  of ALINDECO



From Top Left : Mr. Salvador Tan of SC Tan;  Misses Anne and Charina Lim, and  Mr. Nelson Lim of Ching Bee Trading Corporation;  Mr. Eddie Tan of  SC Tan; Ms. Orpha Noveno, Ms. Carmi Garcia, Mr. Eric Mabalay  of ALINDECO; Mr. Eddie“Square” Tan, Jr.  of SC Tan; Mr. Jon Carlson Lim of Ching Bee Trading Corporation; Messrs. Bhavesh Soni and Stuart Nixon of AHLSTROM,  Deputy Exec. Dir. Petronilo Jabay, Exec. Dir. Victor “Touch” Prodigo of PhilFIDA;  Mr. Howard McCormick of AHLSTROM; & Mr. Alex Tan, PFEA President