Indigenous Knowledge on The Production and Processing of Maguey/ Sisal (furcraea Foetida L.) and The Availability of Other Fiber Plants in Benguet

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Erlinda B. Alupias Betty T. Gayao Dalen T. Meldoz Jaila S. Sagpa-ey


The province of Benguet is a home to different fiber yielding plants some of which were used by the people as clothing in the olden times. Maguey/Sisal (Furcraeafoetida L.) is the most common fiber plant known to the local people, they are mostly found in the rocky mountains of the municipalities of Bokod and Kabayan. The maguey/sisal fibers are usually extracted for rope making. More common fiber plants in all municipalities that are next to maguey/sisal are the wild banana locally named as pintok or amosleng, abaca, native pifia and pandan/fangshan. The fiber yielding trees that were identified in their common local names are: balete or kuba tree, pa/wk, pitikanlanabiong/anadong, bayukan, baloy, alino/alinew, malacapas and apehang trees, bamboo (kawayan or bolo). The barks of these trees were beaten and woven into cloth, which were worn by the olden people. The vine plants are: labtang, bantalaan or bagingey, nito, waka, luay/ogwey/lituko (rattan) and anes. These vines including the bamboo were made into rope for tying or woven into basket and other uses. However, most of these plants are already ve1y rare, and maybe considered endangered species which can be considered in the development of the textile and fiber industry

The indigenous knowledge on fiber processing reflects the resourcefulness of the Benguet people. The knowledge and skills on maguey/sisal fiber processing is a passed on knowledge among families (1950- SO's) though now a dying home industty. This survey identified more than ten (10) maguey/sisal processors (rope making) from Bokod and Kabayan. Documentation showed that these people do not use high technology machineries in processing maguey but uses the simplest tool they have within their environment. Most of them have shifted to polypropylene rope making. The itchiness of maguey and its tedious process prompted these individuals to stop their maguey processing. There is however, a promising potential for increased propagation and product diversification considering the suitability of the crop for forest protection and livelihood source.

Helping the existing processors to revive the maguey fiber indust1y and to share and improve their skills is needed. Research and product development of maguey fibers, fabrication of machine for maguey fiber extraction, wider plantation of maguey and sisal, and further stltdies on the identification and possible propagation and processing of endemic fiber plants are recommended.

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