The Abaca Project

The cultivation of abaca, one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, has provided a significant increase in the monthly earnings of native communities in the south of Costa Rica – many of which were formerly devoted to plantain production. The Abaca Project is nourishing these communities’ entrepreneurial spirit and will to grow.

Abaca is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the musaceae family. The plant, which has a lifespan of 15+ years, produces a water-resistant fiber that is considered to be one of the strongest natural fibers in the world.

 

Due to its unique characteristics, the abaca fiber is used to make products as varied as tea bags, security paper for bills, diapers, machinery filters, hospital textiles, electric cables, ropes, and fishing nets.

 

The Philippines provides most of the world’s abaca (87.4% in 2014), followed by Ecuador and Costa Rica. But the demand is still greater than the supply.

 

In 2016 the NGO Dejando Huella started an ambitious project of agricultural diversification in remote rural areas of Costa Rica in order to improve the life of the country’s native communities. These communities started planting abaca, which is currently in high global demand. The project resulted in a significant increase of the financial income of 130 native families.

In September 2018, Dejando Huella partnered with OMINA to upscale the Abaca community project and to amplify its social and environmental impact. Since then, the Abaca Project has grown into a Project of National Interest in Costa Rica, receiving the support of government and private institutions. A multidisciplinary board of experts devote their time and efforts to ensure The Abaca Project has a long-lasting positive impact in the communities and the country.

 

 

 

 

“OMINA, leader in the region of projects that promote an economy of wellbeing; welcomed, aligned and positioned the Abaca Project to get the ideal support for it to strengthen. Encouragement, sensibility, intelligence and a serious commitment has been what the Abaca Project has been receiving from OMINA, and this has definitely been the key to the success of the project.”

Kate Sibaja, President, Dejando Huella

The Abaca Project aims to create a sustainable and virtuous circle of farming, harvesting and manufacturing of abaca products with the greatest social and environmental impact. The goal is to strengthen the ancient native techniques of farming and harvesting the fiber, but also to use it for the production of sustainable fishing nets that will replace plastic ones, thus increasing not only these communities’ income but also promoting good social and environmental practices.

 

The ultimate ambition of the Abaca Project is to make Costa Rica a plastic fishing net-free zone through legislation that will declare sustainable abaca fishing nets the only ones allowed in Costa Rican seas, setting a precedent for the rest of the world.


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