Bamboo industry gets boost from government and private sector

(From left) Congressman DV Savellano, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, and DA Secretary William Dar.

Government and private sector stakeholders converge to support the bamboo industry during the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council meeting (PBDIC) on Feb 6, 2020.

As Chair of the Bamboo industry council, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez reported that various agencies like the Departments of Agriculture, Environment, Local Government, and Trade are aligning their various programs and connecting the dots in the value chain of the bamboo industry.

These programs include from tissue culture, and planting materials developed by DA to plant propagation and greening program of DENR, to processing, product development and design and marketing by DTI.

Several private organizations and advocacy groups will likewise merge their activities into the council’s programs.

Moreover, being an agribusiness activity, located at the countryside, Lopez added that these activities are included in the Board of Investments BOI investment priorities plan or IPP that can enjoy incentives.

The PBDIC is now also heavily supported by the House Deputy Speaker DV Savellano, being a staunch Bamboo advocate for years.

“The DENR’s National Greening program is targeting to plant 19,000 hectares of bamboo nationwide” said Sec. Lopez.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar also expressed support for this effort in turning bamboo crops into an investment opportunity.

Sec. Dar recently approved DTI’s request of including bamboo as a high-value crop. DA encourages farmers to plant high-value crops like mango, banana, coffee, and cacao as they are expected to generate more profit.

“With bamboo as a high-value crop, we can undertake various interventions that include research, processing and value-adding, and budgetary support, complementing the programs and projects of the PBIDC,” said Sec. Dar.

Bamboo takes only three years to fully grow as 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 others, providing a good livelihood source for a community.

Sec. Lopez shared that investments are welcome at all stages of the value chain from nurseries to design studios. Both secretaries also promoted the use of modern technology to quickly propagate and process the plant.

Secretary Dar meanwhile encouraged the participation of big businesses to partner and help the small farmers, to make the project more competitive and profitable.

PBDIC Vice-Chair and Ilocos Sur Representative Savellano shared that the bills filed are to institutionalize the PBDIC and these are now being discussed at the 18th Congress. He also committed to push the bill at the bicameral hearings.

Senate Bill 524, proposed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, aims to make bamboo a main export product by creating the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap and the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council to provide the overall policy and program directions, and coordinate the activities of the public and private sectors.

The council will have an official launch to promote the bamboo industry. The campaign will be named 5K: Kawayan, Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran, Kinabukasan.