WITH the ongoing abaca fiber crisis in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, the City Agriculturist Office suggests establishing a tissue culture laboratory to cultivate abaca fiber.

“Para tinood na abaca ang matanom sa farmer maka-produce og mga planting materials para sa mga farmer na igo ang pagtanom nila, para sakto ug dili masayang (So that their farmers will be able to plant genuine abaca, and it will not be wasted),” Dario Divino, Agricultural Technologist and Focal on Industrial Crops of the Davao City Agriculturist Office, said during his interview on Davao City Disaster Radio on January 23, 2023.

He said tissue cultured abaca can produce genuine fiber.

“Wala man gud ni niagi og pollination, vegetative man siya nga gikuha didto ang semilya sa cells sa tinood nga abaca unya gipadaghan sa laboratory (It did not get into the process of pollination since the seedlings were directly from the cells of a genuine abaca that were reproduced in the laboratory),” Divino said.

He said this can be done in Talaingod, but it will take a year to be ready for distribution. He added they were able to conduct a tissue culture before in the city that benefited some barangays that have cultivated abaca fiber.

Aside from this, he added that they can also create a nursery that has a different abaca fiber variety.

“Magtanom na sila og 500 ka punoan nga tangongon, o 500 ka bongolanon (They can plant 500 pieces of tangongon or 500 pieces of bongolanon),” he said.

He said these methods may help to resolve the abaca crisis in Talaingod which affected over 2,638 indigenous people (IPs) families from 70 sitios in the municipality as they are producing daratex abaca resulting in loss of their primary source of income.

Daratex abaca is known as fake abaca fiber that has been crossbred between abaca and pakol, a native banana variety.

Since it does not meet their quality standards, buyers stopped sourcing in Talaingod.

Several government agencies have already laid out intermediate interventions and a long-term plan for the affected families.

However, it will still take time for them to get back on their feet, as the new batch of genuine abaca fiber will be harvested after 18-24 months. KSD