Bicol’s Handcrafted Bags & Baskets Priority Under NICCEP

The Bicol Region is home of the best quality, innovative handcrafted products. Its homestyle and wearables industry is the most prevalent provider of income to many Bicolanos. For these reasons, DTI-5 has enrolled its homestyle and wearables industry, particularly the handcrafted fashion bags and utility baskets, under the National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project (NICCEP).

The NICCEP is a partnership between JAICA of Japan and the Philippine Government. Through the NICCEP, it is expected that the industry’s competitiveness will be enhanced, contributing to the Region’s economic growth. Initial efforts are already being done by the NICCEP-Bicol Team through the conduct of meetings with the industry stakeholders and continuous collaboration with all the Team Members. DTI-5 plans to transcend the concept into the provincial level through the creation of Provincial NICCEP Teams, with the Trade Promo Officers as the Provincial Coordinators.

With such commitment to the Project, the NICCEP-Bicol Team envisions “to produce and sell best quality, innovative handcrafted fashion bags and utility baskets using indigenous and environment friendly materials for high-end foreign and domestic markets such as specialty shops, boutiques, and trade houses of the key trading centers in Japan, Europe, USA, and in the country, increasing annual sales, investments, and employment by 10% for the period 2013-2015”.

The most dominant raw materials found in the Region for the identified products are abaca, buri, and seagrass (agas). These are abundant in all six Bicol provinces – Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, and Masbate.

The industry operators include nursery operators; suppliers of equipment, seedlings, fertilizers and finishing materials; farmers; gatherers; strippers; technicians and researchers; weavers; sewers; assemblers; quality controller/inspectors; packers; designers; importers; exporters; consolidators; subcontractors; brokers; freight forwarders; wholesalers; retailers; malls; gift shops; trade houses; and boutiques. On the other hand, the enablers include banks, national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs), business chambers, producers’ organization, and the academe. All these stakeholders collaborate to achieve competitiveness in the homestyle and wearables industry.

From 2009 up to 2011, Bicol Region’s bags and baskets generated US$2.87-M export sales, PhP45.30-M domestic sales, P14.71-M investments, and 1,387 jobs. With the NICCEP, these figures are expected to increase by 10% annually.

The industry’s opportunities and constraints were already identified by the NICCEP-Bicol Core Group. To improve these opportunities and overcome the constraints, the Group plotted an action plan for the handcrafted fashion bags and utility baskets, to be implemented starting this year up to 2015.

– by Kia Bulawan, BDD-RO, DTI-5

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