The Philippine Bamboo Industry Council (PBIC), an interagency group composed of national and local government representatives, plans to convert at least 19,000 hectares of land into bamboo plantations this year.
Around 13,000 hectares of these are in Western Visayas (Region 6).
In a meeting last January 9, Trade Secretary and PBIC chairman Ramon Lopez said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is ready to provide shared service facilities for those who wish to venture into bamboo processing.
Agri-business ventures, like bamboo production and processing, is also part of DTI’s Strategic Investments Priorities Plan, which entitles investors to tax incentives.
Lopez also committed to include bamboo plantations in DTI’s Roads Leveraging Linkages of Industry and Trade Program with the Department of Works and Highways .
The program aims to build “plant to market” roads to ease the delivery of products, especially from remote areas.
“Bamboo planting can provide a sustainable source of livelihood to people in the countryside. Since the plant grows quickly and is weather-resilient, it is an ideal business for farmers who are looking for alternative sources of income,” said Lopez.
PBIC vice chairman and Ilocos Sur Rep. Deputy Speaker DV Savellano said the target areas for plantations will surely increase since the Department of National Defense and some state universities and colleges are also interested to plant bamboo on their properties.
Savellano volunteered his district for the pilot program, which can be replicated nationwide.
Bamboo is known as a fast growing plant that has high carbon dioxide absorptive capacity.
It also provides livelihood opportunities to farm communities.
Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has likewise committed more than 50 percent of its National Greening Program to propagate and plant more bamboo.
DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau will provide training on bamboo production. Bamboo farmers can also get loans at 2 percent interest per year under Landbank’s Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Lending Program.
Bamboo takes only three years to fully grow, compared to 10 to 20 years for wood trees. The plant can be used as construction materials, as well as furniture and paper-making, among other uses.
Executive Order 879 that created the PBIC also mandated that 25 percent of desk and other furniture in public schools should be made of bamboo. Bamboo is effective in preventing floods and absorbing carbon dioxide, mitigating the effects of climate change.
The council will launch an official campaign in March to promote the bamboo industry.
The campaign will be named 5Ks: Kawayan, Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran, Kinabukasan.