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Tropical fabrics will revive Philippine garment sector
Mar '12
In line with the call to increase the use of tropical fibers for textile and the revitalization of the local textile and garments industries, the Philippine tropical fabrics has transformed and incorporated in modern fashion, and expected to create new business opportunities.

“Our researchers have explored fibers to convert into textile materials. After pineapple, banana, abaca, we moved to water hyacinth, saluyot, and maguey. These fibers were used to produce high value fabrics,” Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) Director Carlos C. Tomboc said.

Through science and technology, fabrics' properties were enhanced for textiles to become more comfortable, practical and trendy.

“Tropical fabrics are now enzyme-finished, wherein micro-organisms are used to eliminate fabric components that make it itchy and stiff,” Tomboc said.

The PTRI recently showcased the versatility of naturally dyed fabrics and home-grown fiber materials from leaves of piña and maguey, trunks of banana and abaca, stalks of water hyacinth and barks of saluyot during their exhibit and fashion show “Bagong Habi, Salinlahi”. The show also presented the transformation of local fabrics like inabel of Ilocos, hablon of Iloilo, various weaves from the Cordilleras, and the inaul of Maguindanao into modern outfits.

“We are currently looking for a company to manufacture the total needs of the government employees. The technology is available, and we are willing to transfer this technology to an investor to produce tropical fabrics,” Tomboc said.

The PTRI, a research institution under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), have a program called technology transfer wherein they are looking for partners to commercially produce tropical fabrics.

Together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the PTRI is willing to help interested investors to push for Republic Act No. 9242. This Act is otherwise known as an act prescribing the use of the Philippine tropical fabrics for uniforms of public officials and employees and for other purposes.

With this Act, some 1.4M government employees are mandated to wear Philippine tropical fabrics. A government employee is given P5,000 uniform allowance per year. This makes them a captive market of tropical fabrics.

“If 1.4M employees alone would wear these fabrics, it will create half a million livelihood opportunities,” said Tomboc.

According to Tomboc, the investment requirement to produce tropical fabrics is P200M pesos for those with existing spinning mills. For those without spinning mills, P300M-400M is required.

“The fabric will cost about P80-100 per yard, which makes it competitive to the synthetic fabrics that we buy,” added Tomboc.

Tomboc also noted that we have plenty of raw materials to produce tropical fabrics.

“We have 60,000 ha. of pineapple, 350,000 hectares of banana, and 150,000 hectares of abaca. The problem is the manufacturer to convert these fibers in to PH tropical fabrics,” said Tomboc.

With its entry of into the mainstream market, Philippine tropical fabrics will not only create livelihood in the manufacturing but also in the agricultural sector.

Department of Trade and Industry

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