The Piña Fiber weaving was once upon a time a lucrative industry, especially in the province of Aklan where the Spanish Red variety of pineapple, known for its strong fiber, grows well.
Time was when wearing a Barong Tagalog or Terno made out of Piña made people stand out in the crowd and perceived as classy.
In recent years, however, the industry has suffered from very low supply of the fiber and the dwindling number of weavers who only earn as much as P300 a day for the difficult work which strains the eyes.
Last Wednesday, March 8, I visited the town of Banga, Aklan and met with the farmers and fisher folks of the province for another sortie of the Biyaheng Bukid and learned so many things on what should be done to support the Piña Fiber Industry.
The acknowledged advocate of the Piña Fiber Industry in Aklan, India dela Cruz, said that planting materials are very scarce these days and this was hardly any effort to improve on the quality of the Spanish Red Pineapple, which is the only variety used for the production of the Piña cloth.
The industry has also been losing its weavers to the 4Ps program which offers periodic dole-outs to poor families because of the very low income share and the eye-straining work of weaving the fine fibers.
To address these problems, I have committed the support of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to the industry by providing financing for the tissue culture to produce more planting materials.
I also pledged the support of the DAF to researches on how to improve the Spanish Red variety whose fruits are so small that these are just virtually thrown away during the harvesting of the leaves.
The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will be tasked to conduct researches on how to improve the size and the quality of the Spanish Red Pineapple fruits so that farmers will make additional income.
Most of all, I have personally pledged to support the promotions and marketing of Piña fiber and increase its market value so that the poor weavers will make more money.
For example, I intend to ask President Rody Duterte to wear Barong Tagalog made out of Piña Fiber and ask members of Congress and the Senate to patronise our Piña Fiber Barong.
I believe that with these efforts we will be able to breathe life into this dying industry and address poverty in the remote areas of Aklan and other provinces in the Island of Panay.
#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #PiñaBarongRocks!