Outside Catanduanes: SP Bans Sale, Transport of Abaca Suckers for 5 Years - CT

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved an ordinance banning the sale and transport of abaca suckers outside the province of Catanduanes for five years in a bid to safeguard the abaca industry here.

The ordinance, sponsored by PBM Nel Asanza, was enacted in response to reliable reports of the indiscriminate practice of some abaca producers and traders who sell abaca suckers to buyers from the mainland and transporting them outside the province.

"This practice poses a great danger to abaca fiber production as it would result to a probable depletion of abaca plantations and in time would lead to the weakening of the abaca industry in the province, to the prejudice of abaca farmer and traders would be greatly affected," the provincial board stated.

The rampant sale and transport of suckers also present an obstacle to the Catanduanes Unlad Abakamasa (CUA) program of the provincial government which seeks to uplift the quality of life of marginal abaca farmers and at the same time maintain Catanduanes’ reputation as the abaca capital of the country, it said.

Under the ordinance, the sale of abaca planting materials such as suckers, corms (seed pieces) and eyebuds (sliced, viable eyebuds from corms) is prohibited outside the province along with the sale of abaca planting materials without certification that the source is free from abaca diseases. Violators would be fined P3,000 or three-month imprisonment for the first offense, P4,000 or six-month imprisonment for the second offense, and P5,000 fine or one-year imprisonment for the third offense. A criminal case would also be filed against the violators.

A monitoring team composed of personnel from the Provincial Agriculture Support Office (PASO), Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), municipal agriculture offices and barangay officials would be created to ensure the implementation of the ordinance.

An FIDA official told the Tribune that the ban is needed in order to allow the local abaca industry to fully recover from the damage wrought by supertyphoon "Reming" and other storms as well as abaca diseases in some areas of the island.

He said that some traders and farmers in Caramoran have been selling abaca suckers to mainland traders for P20 per piece, with the suckers taken to Albay on board motorized bancas at 1,000 to 3,000 pieces per shipment.

The provincial government has recently undertaken the purchase and distribution of 39,000 abaca suckers to qualified farmers under the abaca rehabilitation project under the CUA program, which also includes abaca densification, mechanization of fiber extraction, abaca disease eradication, processing, value-adding and abaca research.

Source: Catanduanes Tribune - 30 October 2009
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