5,000 hectares of abaca farms ravaged by disease
posted 10-Dec-2019  ·  
7,131 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

About 15 percent of Catanduanes’ 32,000 hectares of abaca plantations are either dead or drying from the incurable Abaca Bunchy Top Disease( ABTD), raising fears that it could wipe out the industry in a few years’ time if not eradicated.

Last week, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) reported during a committee hearing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that anywhere from 1% to 40% of the province’s total abaca area, totaling 4,920 hectares in all 11 towns, are affected by the disease.

The estimates diseased area in hectares by town are as follows: Bagamanoc, 43; Baras, 332; Bato, 82; Caramoran, 1,787; Gigmoto, 222; Pandan, 245; Panganiban, 60; San Andres, 116; San Miguel, 757; Viga, 1,082; and, Virac, 194.

The report said that of the 32,000 hectares of estimated total abaca area, just over 25,000 hectares are considered “effective”, with 13,480 farmers and their families depending on the industry for their livelihood.

Agency officials disclosed that 6,876 hectares of affected farms are being considered for rehabilitation.

The committee meeting held Nov. 13, 2019 was attended by PhilFIDA officials and municipal agriculturists, who rendered reports on the disease infestation before Provincial Board Members Arnel Turado and Rafael Zuniega.

It was PBM Zuniega’s privilege speech during the SP’s Nov. 4 regular session that prompted the board to call PhilFIDA and the agriculturists of the 11 municipalities to the hearing.

The veteran legislator said the disease incidence is adversely undermining abaca productivity and sustainability.

He urged his colleagues to pass his three resolutions requesting the national and local governments to allocate over P200 million for abaca rehabilitation in Catanduanes and another measure urging PhilFIDA to exert utmost efforts to combat the abaca disease.

In Caramoran’s Hitoma area alone, comprising seven barangays, around 50% of the plantations are already affected, PBM Zuniega stated.

In San Miguel, Mayor Francisco Camano Jr. told the board members that 70% of the abaca area is diseased, with the industry facing destruction in three years’ time if not acted upon by concerned agencies.

“We cannot afford to let this menace destroy our number one agricultural product,” Zuniega stressed. “This is not good for the entire abaca industry and for the local economy.”

Underscoring the fact that the issue has weakened the province’s momentum for abaca development, he warned that if it is not addressed effectively, it would seriously impact the income of abaca farmers and totally paralyze the abaca industry.

However, PhilFIDA clarified that an effective Abaca Disease Management Program, conducted alongside local government units, has been in place, with fiber production not decreasing as feared but slowly increasing.

In its report on comparative abaca fiber production from 2012 to 2018, Catanduanes’ fiber harvest rose to a high of 25,450.90 metric tons in 2014, before dipping to just 22,534.32 in 2017.

In 2016, typhoon Nina wrought P333 million in damage to the industry, with fiber losses estimated at a total of 840 metric tons.

To replant damaged plantations, the Department of Agriculture provided P50 million, along with P5 million counterpart from the provincial government, for the rehabilitation effort. A total of 4,392 hectares were replanted with abaca suckers, with 14,287 farmers paid nearly P50 million as Cash-for-Work Incentive.

In 2018, fiber production in the island considered the Abaca Capital of the Philippines and in the world rose slightly to 23,422.10 metric tons. This accounted for nearly 31% of the total production in the entire country and 91% of the Bicol region’s fiber haul.

However, 2019 production could dip as total fiber production in Catanduanes for the first 10 months has reached only 16,279.38 metric tons. At the current average monthly production, the total fiber harvest by year-end could reach only about 20,000 metric tons.

In the hearing, PhilFIDA said there is no cure for the bunchy top disease and the only way to manage it is to kill the diseased plant.

The virus is brought by host aphids that feed on lasa and corn that are sometimes intercropped with abaca in forest lands, it added.

PBM Zuniega suggested that an information campaign be waged to urge farmers not to practice intercropping in their abaca plantations.

For his part, PBM Turado said there is a need to recover the areas lost to the disease in order to maintain the production area of 32,000 hectares, aside from considering expansion areas.

new to catanduanestribune.com?
connect with us to leave a comment.
connect thru
home home album photo album blogs blogs