In Davao City, the local government has embarked on a significant project to boost the production of high-quality abaca fibers in the Paquibato District. This initiative, led by the city government's Peace 911 program and the City Agriculturist Office (CAgrO), involved the distribution of abaca plantlets to local farmers. According to Philippines News Agency, the Peace 911 focal person, this program, announced on Friday, aims not only to improve the district's production of quality fibers but also to eradicate the presence of the inferior Daratex variant, commonly referred to as fake abaca.
The drive to enhance abaca production stems from the district's reliance on this crop, particularly among the indigenous population, for whom abaca farming is not just an economic activity but also a vital part of their cultural heritage. Between November 24 and 30, in response to the recent suspension of abaca trade, 71 affected farmers received 7,000 abaca plantlets under the Productivity Enhancement for Abaca Commodity Enterprise (Peace) program of CAgrO. This included the distribution of 2,000 plantlets to 15 farmers and 5,000 plantlets to 56 farmers in Sitio Mangani, located in Barangay Tapak Proper.
The urgency of this intervention was highlighted by the financial hardships faced by abaca farmers in Paquibato, most of whom belong to the indigenous community. They experienced significant losses following the suspension of abaca sourcing from the district, attributed to the poor quality of fibers produced since late 2022. Investigations revealed that the widespread cultivation of the substandard Daratex abaca variant, particularly in Paquibato and Talaingod in Davao del Norte, was responsible for the decline in fiber quality.
To further support the farmers, Peace 911 and CAgrO have established two onsite abaca nurseries in Barangay Tapak. These nurseries are designed to provide the farmers with access to authentic and native abaca plantlets or seedlings, enabling them to produce high-quality abaca fibers. Presto emphasized the importance of this initiative in securing the economic growth of Paquibato while honoring the city's natives and their rich heritage of abaca farming.