The provincial government of Davao del Norte, Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), and buyers teamed up to help the indigenous people (IP) affected by the suspension of abaca buying operations in Talaingod.
PhilFIDA Executive Director Annray Rivera and some exporters met with Governor Edwin Jubahib to map out long term interventions in solving the issue.
"Andito po ang ating pamahalaan upang tulongan ang ating mga IP farmers sa abot ng ating makakaya," she said.
Rivera said traders now resumed buying abaca after PhilFIDA lifted the red-tagging in the buying of abaca from the Davao Region last February 7, 2023.
"Noong February 7.. ni-lift na po natin yang geographical labelling na pagsinabi na ang abaca ay galing sa Davao Region ay bawal bilhin," she disclosed.
It can be recalled that about 3,000 IP families from 70 sitios in the tribal town were affected after traders stopped sourcing abaca-daratex fibers from the IP farmers in Talaingod last year.
Rivera said traders suspended buying fake abaca daratex due to its low quality that pose some processing problems.
As a long-term solution, the official disclosed the government's thrust of eradicating the fake abaca from the municipality phase by phase and replacing them with true abaca varieties, such as tanggongon.
She asked Jubahib not to abandon abaca production to protect Davao Region's status as the number two producer of the fiber.
She bared the government is looking into value-adding the discarded daratex fibers, such as turning them into sacks, boxes and the likes, while the province continue providing planting materials for cash crops, fruit trees and poultry to help the affected IP farmers during the transition period.
Rivera further hailed Jubahib for his prompt action in alleviating the plight of the IPs.
The governor went to Talaingod at once upon learning of the situation, to provide some interventions as he feared the issue might fuel the return of insurgency in the province.
"Ayaw natin na lumaki pa ang problemang ito at kailangang malunasan kaagad upang hindi maging dahilan para bumalik ang insurhensiya sa probinsiya," he told Rivera.
He ordered the provincial agriculturist to buy the abaca, whike providing the IPs thousands of food packs, 100,000 seedlings of tanggongon abaca, and planting materials of fruit trees and cash crops, such as corn, coffee, cardava and vegetables.
Jubahib said he could not afford to let the gains of the government in making the province insurgency-free go to waste.
Eric Mabalay, owner and vice president of Fibers Trading, Inc. said that with the lifting of the red-tagging they have resumed buying abaca in Talaingod.
"Handa naming bilhin yung abaca na tunay na pwedeng bilhin," he said.