Abaca is a species of the banana plant native to the Philippines. Grown as a commercial crop, its fiber is vital to the country's economy. According to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PHILFIDA), the Philippines is responsible for providing 87% of the world's requirement for the production of the following:
- Cordage and textiles
- Specialty papers (for currency note, stencil paper, teabag, coffee filter/cup, capacitor and insulation paper, etc.)
- Furniture and fixtures
- Handicrafts and novelty items
- Meat casing
- Cosmetics and skin care products
- Grocery bags
- Composites for automotive and construction
Watch the video below for more info on the abaca fiber:
From its export earnings, the abaca industry brings in an annual average of P4.7 billion. Now, as COVID-19 continues to affect countries around the world, there is an increasing need for more Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to keep medical staff and frontliners safe.
Kennedy Costales, Executive Director of PHILFIDA, told Inquirer.net: "Before COVID-19, face masks, gowns, shoe covers, head covers and PPE only represented less than 1 percent of the total annual abaca production in the Philippines."
Since abaca is an ideal material for creating more medical fabric due to its porous fibers, this will lead to an increased demand for PPEs and face masks. Its medical-grade quality will make abaca fiber extremely sought after, especially to countries with a supply deficit.
If you're interested in purchasing eco-friendly face masks, Salay Handmade Paper Industries uses sustainable materials like abaca fiber which is then converted into special filters for their their 7XB Fiber Masks. Results from testing done by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) showed that the eco-friendly mask is seven times better in terms of filtration and protection compared to normal cloth face masks.