MAASIN CITY, April 21 (PIA) -- After crippling the dollar-earning abaca industry brought about by the infestation of bunchy top disease, the Maasin City’s Office of the Agricultural Services (OCAS) now spearheaded the abaca rehabilitation after 17 years.

The Office of the City Agricultural Services (OCAS) Officer-in-Charge Virgilia Barrientos during the Media Briefing held at PIA- Southern Leyte last week said that two years from the start of the rehabilitation efforts since last year, she surmised bountiful harvest of abaca in the locality in two years.

Inspired with the growth of strong and healthy abaca suckers in the locality, the city's agri arm decided it's high time to rehabilitate the abaca industry which was devastated sometime in 2004, she said.

With the initiatives of Maasin City Mayor Nacional Mercado, funds generated from the Economic Development of the city government were allocated for the rehabilitation of abaca industry in the city, she said.

Barrientos disclosed that the city government released cash assistance worth P6-M last year and another P2.5-M for 2021 for the 34 out of 70 barangays who have existing abaca plantations alone.

Each abaca farmer shall receive P6,000 cash assistance, Barrientos said.

The beneficiaries to the rehab program were required to plant at least 100 abaca suckers within 20 days per abaca farmer, Barrientos disclosed.

The program also gave priority to barangay councilors who have existing abaca plantations as they supervise and monitor other abaca farmers joining the rehab efforts in their respective locality, she added.

Maasin City is the home of the best variety of abaca, namely Inosa, Laylay and Puti-an, which can be sold now at P80 per kilo, Barrientos disclosed.

She also reported that their office will work closely with the Philippine Fiber Development Authority ( PhilFIDA) as the latter intends to rehabilitate 100 hectares of abaca farm this year for the following barangays such as Lonoy, Basak, Canju-om and Tigbawan, all of Maasin City, she added. (ldl/esg/PIA SoLeyte)