Butuan City – The Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) Project Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (Project ConVERGE) bring in together all Abaca stakeholders in a forum held last March 26-27, 2019 in Butuan City.

Project Manager Gomer Tumbali explained that the objective is to provide opportunity and venue for technology development, financing and market links.

“Abaca is considered a champion agricultural crop because of its demand, however Project ConVERGE still see presence of challenges for this commodity especially in production expansion technology, financing and market access”, Tumbali added.

DAR 13 Regional Director Leomides Villareal highlighted that the region, particularly Agusan Norte is among the top producers of quality abaca in the country.

“Our interventions for the abaca farmers especially in the Tubay, Jabonga, Kitcharao, and Santiago (TUJAKITSAN) area in Agusan del Sur through Project ConVERGE has truly boosted production. But despite this, statistics still reveal that Caraga ranked only fourth in the production nationwide”, he added.

DAR provided the abaca suckers and other planting implements to the farmers in the TUJAKITSAN.

However, figures by the Philippine Statistics Authority show, last year, Caraga produced only 1,946 metric tons compared to that of Bicol’s 7,385 metric tons.

“The office had already completed the infrastructure investigation for the concreting of the 1.67 kilometer farm-to-market road and construction of the shed house in the TUJAKITSAN area”, Villareal announced.

The participants were also brought to the abaca project site in Santiago for exposure.

Tumbali hoped for gains in the conduct of the forum. “We are really hoping that partnerships and collaborations will be facilitated in this event”, he said.

He furthers by thanking all the allied agencies who expresses support like the Department of Agriculture through the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) and the private sectors and buyers who are present.

Project ConVERGE is implemented by the DAR and jointly funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).