Abaca is one of the country’s best and most exported products, globally. This is internationally known as “Manila Hemp.”
From the Filipino ancestors, abacas were used as raw materials for their clothing and footwear. Undeniably, at present, it has already expanded and widened the use from this raw material to its industrial usage.
This material grows richly in the Bicol, Visayas, and Mindanao regions. It belongs to the Musaceae family that is similar to banana. You can easily identify whether it is abaca or not, whenever its stalks are slender, and its leaves are more narrow. You will also observe a dark line on the right hand part of the upper surface.
In the Philippines, there are 49 provinces wherein abaca is being produced. Catanduanes, Leyte, Northern Samar, Davao Oriental, Sulu, Surigao del Sur, Bukidnon, Southern Leyte, Davao del Sur, and Aklan are the top ten producers of the abaca.
For the information of everyone, the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and China are the major markets of the abaca.
There are 3 methods of extracting the fiber:
Hand-stripping – By pulling the tuxy (outer covering of the leafsheath) manually, you can extract the already fiber. This is by using a serrated knife that is being place under it.
Spindle-stripping – This is by the use of a rotating wooden spindle driven by an engine. The tuxy is usually placed between a stripping knife and a block.
Decortication – This method uses a decorticating machine. The leafsheaths are fed into the machine and the extraction of the fiber is being processed.
Different uses of Abaca:
Furniture, cordage, textile/fabrics, nonwovens and disposables, pulp and specialty papers like currency notes, cigarette paper, meat and sausage casings, teabags, stencil papers, hi-tech capacitor paper and other specialty papers.
Leyte Normal University
Philippine Natural Fibers
Department of Agriculture