Discovering Raffia: Fiber for the Modern Fashion

Aside from abaca fiber, another raw material that the Philippines is proud of is the raffia fiber which is obtained from the raffia palm tree, sometimes called raphia. It is made of long leaves of up to 60 feet or approximately 18 meters, making the palm tree with the largest branches. Each branch is composed of leaflets averaging to 100 – these are cut and torn in parallel lines having an end product of long continuous fiber in pale green.


To harvest this palm, the collector would need to go deep into the island, string and dry the freshly cut pale green strand and dry them under the sun. After drying, the fibers would turn beige, yielding a natural colored raffia we know.


After that, the raffia strands are then delivered to the warehouses so that they can be classified and separated into different types of raffia in texture, color, width, and length. Each quality is placed in another section where they will be formed into hanks, balls, spools, and more. Sometimes, it is dyed in order to have a colored natural raffia.


The fiber of raffia is pliable, soft, but durable and strong. It is also easy to dye and is biodegradable, thus, it is an excellent material for weaving baskets, making hats, mats, rugs, and bags.

In agriculture, raffia is used to tie vegetable, plants in vineyards, in flower arrangements and flower bouquets. Crafters make use of raffia in making ribbons, table skirts, doll hair, Hawaiian skirt and the likes.


How about in the packaging industry? 

Yes, they are also being used. Raffia is being tied as a little bow around oil, jam, vinegar, soaps, boxes and etc.

Finally, natural and artificial grasses that use a plastic can be replaced by raffia grass. This can be in a decoration, in the movie industry or on projects.