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PHL abaca fiber likely to see 5.7pc growth in global demand for next 5 years

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-02-02 11:00:00 – Philippine

Philippines will remain as the world’s top source of abaca, the strongest-known natural fiber, according to TechSci global market research and consulting company as the global demand for Philippine abaca fiber is expected to grow 5.7 percent through 2019. The UK, Japan and China are the country’s major markets for abaca.

Increasing consumer preference for lifestyle projects will further boost demand for abaca-based products in the coming years.

Moreover with continuing development of fiber-craft industry in the Philippines, the abaca-fiber market has been witnessing a boost due to growing demand for gifts, toys and housewares.

TechSci Research said that the use of abaca in manufacturing specialty paper will also expand the demand for the fiber.

Currently, the Philippines and Ecuador are considered as the two major exporters of abaca fiber as the country accounts for over 80-percent global output of abaca.

To help local farmers cash in on the growing demand for abaca, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said that it is developing appropriate technology to develop a wider range of abaca-based products.

During the Philippine Textile Industry Stakeholders Conference last week Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo said that the government has earmarked P52 million to rehabilitate the DOST’s Philippine Textile Research Institute’s [PTRI] pilot facility this year. The facility will provide the much-needed indigenous yarn supply to textile [producers].

PTRI Director Celia B. Elumba said that demand for stronger textile made from natural fiber is on the uptrend, citing the case of several local textile manufacturers, who are currently producing maong which contains 30 percent to 50 percent abaca components.

The combination of abaca with silk has resulted in a highly acceptable textile in terms of wearability. The country needs to increase its spindles to produce more yarn out of natural fibers. Currently, the Philippines has only 120,000 spindles, unlike Bangladesh, which has 6 million.

Elumba said that the P52 million allocated to PTRI is capable of constructing 44 spinning machines, which are capable of producing 800 yards of yarn a day. The project will also include the development of commercially available natural dyes from indigenous plant materials, which are a current global trend, adding that China has already halted its use of chemical-based dyes some 12 years ago because of environmental concerns.

From January to August 2014, Philippine abaca exports expanded 57.4 percent to $79.3 million, from $50.6 million recorded in the same period in 2013 on the back of sustained demand for the crop in the country’s major markets, the Fiber Industry Development Authority (Fida) an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture said.

Figures from Fida revealed that the value of the shipments of abaca fiber more than doubled to $10.9 million in the eight months to August 2014, from $4.9 million posted in the same period in 2013.

The value of abaca pulp shipped out to other countries also increased by 64 percent from $34.8 million recorded in January to August 2013 to $51.1 million. Earnings from cordage and fabrics also has moved up by 18 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

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