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MAASIN CITY, April 18 (PIA) -- The city government here has set aside the amount of P8.5 million from its own coffers to jumpstart the revival of the once thriving abaca, an industry that dominated the grassroots economy here more than two decades ago before being crippled by disease.

For the year 2020, P6 million was set aside for the purpose and another P2.5 million was allotted for this year, Virgilia Barrientos, OIC city agriculturist, reported.

Since 2004, bunchy top, a disease affecting abaca plants, ravaged almost all of the areas planted to this kind of fiber in upland barangays of the city.

But over the years some patches have survived, in which the surviving growth will now be replanted and cared under the comprehensive abaca rehabilitation program, a pet project of City Mayor Nacional Mercado, Barrientos said at the Kapihan sa PIA Wednesday.

Farmers in 20 out of 34 abaca-producing barangays, at 17 farmers per barangay, already received the cash assistance under the 2020 budget of P6 million, where every farmer planted 100 healthy suckers coming from his own stock.

After having been checked the individual output for 20 days, the abaca farmer was paid P300 for his daily labor for a total of P6,000 per farmer, and Mayor Mercado was personally present during days when payment was done in all the barangays, further boosting the morale of the farmers, Barrientos shared.

That was Phase 1, and Phase 2 is for this year, for the abaca farmers in the remaining 14 barangays, she added.

Maasin city boosts as having the best kind of abaca fibers most traders liked, such as the inosa, laylay, and putian varieties, and right now the current market price ranged P80 per kilo and above.

In two to three years’ time it is estimated that the newly planted generation of abaca plants will be due for harvesting, Barrientos further said. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)