UP Los Baños, DOST develop abaca hybrid high-quality paper

HSBC Philippines
Abaca Hybrid high-quality paper
The physical properties of Bandala abaca hybrid paper samples were found to be comparable to those of commercial abaca. Photo from DOST.

The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have together produced high-quality paper made from the “Bandala” abaca hybrid fiber.

The Bandala, the result of more than 60 years of work by scientists mostly from the UPLB Institute of Plant Breeding, was recently found by DOST’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute to yield comparatively the same high-quality fiber as a natural abaca plant which makes it a promising material for pulp and paper and raw materials for all sorts of products and industries.

Abaca, which is known as the world’s strongest natural fiber and is native to the Philippines, has made the country the world’s number one abaca supplier. The abaca industry is a source of livelihood to about 200,000 farming families in 56 provinces.

The Bandala abaca hybrid is the result of work done by Pinoy scientists who spent hundreds of hours in laboratories trying to come up with the kind of plant that would meet the needs of local abaca farmers and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

As a result of breeding, they were able to develop exactly the right types of abaca and banana hybrid they were aiming for – the Bandala with the traits of an ideal hybrid of a plant that is more resilient and resistant to pests and greatly helps the farmers.

The Bandala abaca hybrid was found to be high-yielding, drought-tolerant, and able to withstand the attack of the notorious abaca bunchy-top virus or ABTV.

“Our finding was that the physical properties (basis weight, thickness, folding endurance, and burst, tensile and tear indices) of the Bandala paper sheets we studied were comparable to those of commercial abaca,” says DOST-FPRDI researcher Aimee Trixie R. Habon in the June 8, 2020 report. “This is important because it shows that the hybrid has high economic potential.”

DOST-FPRDI provided support to the abaca industry through their research and development program that aims to improve and expand the use of abaca and other natural fibers in making specialty paper and other high-end products.

The abaca is a preferred raw material for various modern technologies employed in making the ship and power transmission ropes, car interiors, well-drilling cables, furnishing, textile, as well as specialty and security paper.

Some applications of the abaca include being used as a raw material of Personal Protective Equipment against COVID-19, an abaca-lined SWAN amphibious rescue vehicle, abaca-based non-woven fabric to filter water pollutants, and even as possible lining for astronauts’ spacesuits.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the UPLB-IPB and DOST-FPRDI teams for developing the Bandala abaca hybrid high-quality paper.

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Eldan Sambatyon
Eldan is an experienced online content writer who finds fulfillment in sharing the good side of the news to Filipinos.