Sen. Bam Aquino called on communities in the countryside on Wednesday to plant bamboo trees and help the country meet a strong demand for bamboo furniture here and abroad.
He said the Philippines could grab a big share of the bamboo furniture global market if it can produce a steady supply of bamboo poles to manufacturers.
“If we have more communities planting bamboo and there are ready markets left and right … that would be a waste if we don’t supply them,” he said during a hearing on the status of the bamboo industry conducted by the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship (CTCE).
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the country has around 50,572 hectares of bamboo forest. The agency planned to plant another 3,086 hectares with bamboo trees this year.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has also issued an executive order to reforest at least 50,000 hectares with bamboo as contribution to the commitment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to reforest 20 million hectares of new forest by 2020.
Aquino, chairman of the CTCE), said the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council under the Department of Trade and Industry, must form a technical working group to address the lack of supply.
“Why aren’t we hitting the target number of bamboo poles needed by manufacturers? This will be a lost opportunity of income and livelihood for communities and for the economy,” Aquino said.
The Department of Education said it has an existing order for bamboo furniture, which is 20 percent of its furniture needs for desks, tables and chair, but officials could not get suppliers.
The DENR said the existing bamboo forests cannot cover the monthly demand of eight million bamboo poles.