MANILA, Philippines — Unknown to many, a raw material sourced from a type of banana plant, Musa textilis, is now in high demand due to the global shortage of one of the most important tools against the coronavirus pandemic — personal protective equipment (PPE).
Locally known as abaca, it has been one of the country’s top traditional cash crops for decades, along with sugar and tobacco, and appears to be making a comeback as the world rushes to produce more PPE.
“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,” said Kennedy Costales, executive director of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (Philfida).
According to the official, abaca’s unique, porous fibers are ideal for making medical fabric. As such, the crop has rapidly become a prized commodity as governments all over the world try to stop the spread of COVID-19 without a vaccine, armed only with masks and PPE to save lives.
“With the new normal, demand for face masks will spike exponentially worldwide. PPE are just one of the hundred end products of the precious abaca plant,” Costales added.
Read more: Inquirer
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