Forest vines can help PH climb up to becoming world’s top handicraft maker, but only if government intervenes

Forest vines are considered among the best sources of raw materials for handicraft production. They are also excellent sources of materials for low-cost housing, food and beverages, clothing, and medicine in rural areas.

These herbaceous or woody plants have roots anchored to the ground, while the rest of their bodies climb by clinging to trees and other plants for mechanical support and position themselves to capture sunlight above the forest canopy. With their long yet flexible stems, forest vines are suitable for novelty hand-made native products popular with tourists.

Forest vines are considerably abundant in Philippine forests, making the country the second largest global producer of handicraft, mainly baskets out of indigenous materials.

However, the insufficient supply of these raw materials, coupled with stiff competition from other handicraft producing countries such as China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, is pulling down the Philippine handicraft industry. And the fact that forest vines are among the lesser studied non-timber forest products (NTFPs) aren’t helping.

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NTFPs, which unfortunately has also been referred to as “minor forest products”, now suffer from lack of market information, inefficient extraction and processing technologies, lack of raw material supply, and lack of capital to finance NTFP plantation developments.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) now hopes to address this problem. With funding from the department’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), a program has been developed, called “Philippine Forest Vines for Handicraft and Furniture Industry”. This program will then be implemented by the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI).

DOST-PCAARRD has funded four projects implemented by DOST-FPRDI under the forest vines program:

  • Biological studies of economically important forest vines in Camarines Sur and Albay provinces;
  • Treatability and performance of commercial forest woody vines using chemical and organic preservatives;
  • Evaluation of the physical and mechanical properties of economically important forest woody vines, and;
  • Value chain assessment of commercially important forest vines

These projects aim to use non-commercial species of forest vines, promote sustainable management, develop nurseries and demo farms, improve harvesting technologies, and provide recommendations to the handicraft and furniture industries for improvement in the supply chain.

With the help of the technologies that will be developed, the furniture and handicraft industries can be efficient and effective in producing raw materials and marketing their products made of forest woody vines.

By turning forest vines into various products, farmers and upland folk can generate additional income and also increase the country’s handicraft exports.

Other novel and innovative products may be uncovered and developed. These S&T interventions can provide better opportunities to the various players in the industry.  DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services


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