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Trivias about the Natural Fibers

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United Nations' International Year of Natural Fibers

Each year, farmers harvest around 35 million tons of natural fibers from a wide range of plants and animals – from sheep, rabbits, goats, camels and alpacas, from cotton bolls, abaca and sisal leaves and coconut husks, and from the stalks of jute, hemp, flax and ramie plants. Those fibers form fabrics, ropes and twines that have been fundamental to society since the dawn of civilization.

But over the past half century, natural fibers have been displaced in our clothing, household furnishings, industries and agriculture by man-made fibers with names like acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene. The success of synthetics is due mainly to cost. Unlike natural fibers harvested by farmers, commonly used synthetic fibers are mass produced from petrochemicals to uniform strengths, lengths and colours, easily customized to specific applications.

The Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) under Department of Agriculture (DA) commenced with a Farmers’ Field Day celebration in Kalibo, Aklan for the International Year of Natural Fibers (IYNF) 2009.

Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez urged the farmers to discover various uses of abaca and other commercial fibers by participating in activities of IYNF, which began on April 21, and other FIDA events.

He said Aklan plans to invite investors who will put up pulp mills and generate more income for people.

The provincial government also has a "Plant Now, Pay Later" Program for abaca expansion in Libacao, Banga, Madalag, Ibajay, Altavas, Balete and Makato municipalities, he noted.

FIDA Administrator Cecilia Gloria J. Soriano cited IYNF’s objectives — to raise awareness and stimulate demand for natural fibers; and encourage from governments appropriate policy responses on problems faced by natural fiber industries as well as to foster an effective and enduring international partnership among these industrial players.

IYNF also aims to enhance efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibers industries.