Saluyot, a jute-like plant called “famine food” because it is a vegetable of last resort during drought times, has been added to the Philippine Textile Research Institute’s (PTRI’s) menu of renewable native fibers suitable for fabric production. The Philippines harvest many plants with commercial applications, including abaca, ramie, coconut coir, salago, maguey, buntal, raffia, kapok, pina, banana, kozo, kenaf and silk. PTRI develops methods of mechanical or chemical fiber separation and yarn or fabric processing. “We have woven 80 percent polyester with 20 percent spun saluyot fibers to make smooth fabrics,” says PTRI director Carlos Tomboc. Saluyot woven with cotton is used in curtains and drapes, bedding, table linens, nets, ropes and geotextiles.
“The world textile industry has been devoid of new natural textiles for 15 years now and it is a great opportunity for tropical fibers made in the Philippines,” says Nora Mangalindan, head of research and development at PTRI. Most Philippine fabric products are synthetic, and competition from Chinese textiles is draining life out of the industry. Tropical fibers could spur future growth; government uniforms are now required to contain at least three percent tropical fibers, a substitution that could reduce fibers imports of 481 metric tons a year. For more, see