AS the global demand for bamboo continually increased in the past eight years, the public and private sectors in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) have collaborated to give the bamboo industry in the region a boost by promoting various business opportunities, and pushing for bamboo for reforestation to rehabilitate and protect watershed areas.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), global demand for bamboo is huge with $7 billion in exports in 2009 that significantly increased to $17 billion in 2015.
Blesila Lantayona, DTI assistant secretary for Regional Operations Group, said the Philippines exported P62 million in bamboo products in the first six months of 2017.
Of the known 1,000 bamboo species, 49 grow in the Philippines that gives the country the potential to become a major supplier of products made from the plant. China is currently the biggest exporter of bamboo products.
The DTI said the country’s bamboo industry now produces world-class furniture like lamp shades and picture frames, and ply board.
In an effort to support the industry, the DTI and the Department of Environment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Cagayan Valley recently conducted the first Cagayan Valley bamboo business forum with the theme “Bamboo 2020: Innovation for Sustainability” in Tuguegarao City.
Ruben Diciano, DTI Cagayan Valley officer-in-charge, said the forum provided an avenue for the promotion of various business opportunities such as engineered bamboo production, nursery propagation and management, bamboo furniture production, and bamboo waste utilization.
The forum, which also supports the region’s Industry Clustering Program of the Regional Development Council-Economic Development Committee, also resulted in the creation of the Regional Bamboo Council (RBC), which aims to provide a united front for the growth and development of the bamboo industry in the region.
“It [RBC] will serve as a venue for collaboration among key industry players, local government units [LGU], academe and other concerned agencies,” Diciano said.
During the forum, Lantayona, one of the speakers, said the development of the region’s bamboo industry is a shared vision and advocacy between the public and private sector.
She also encouraged existing furniture producers to venture into engineered bamboo school desks production to supply the requirements of the Department of Education (DepEd), and urged the media to help DTI in its effort to promote the development of bamboo production and processing in the region.
During the forum, which was attended also by 170 stakeholders, the DTI presented the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap 2016-2040, and various financing windows offered by Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) involved in the manufacture of bamboo products.
Diciano said parallel initiatives have been done for the creation of MSMEs in the manufacture of bamboo furniture and handicrafts.
BAMBOO PROJECTS LAUNCHED IN QUIRINO
In line with the National Greening Program (NGP), a recently held forum in Quirino province was also held focusing on bamboo production led by OceanaGold Sustainable Agro-Forestry Inc. (OGSAI), a corporation tasked by the Australian OceanaGold miner for its reforestation and rehabilitation programs.
OceanaGold has been operating commercially its Didipio Gold and Copper Mine in the upland town of Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya, a neighboring province.
OceanaGold said the forum supports the government’s expanded NGP in its effort to rehabilitate Quirino’s watershed areas and to develop a resource-based livelihood among the residents, particularly within the Addalam River Basin.
Held at the OGSAI demo farm and training center in Barangay Tucod in Cabarroguis town in Quirino on November 27-29, 2017, the forum tackled OGSAI’s bamboo project to be implemented for five years.
The project includes the establishment of bamboo plantations along critical sections of the Addalam River banks and in strategic areas within the river basin to protect soil erosion and silting of said river and other upstream tributaries like the Didipio River.
According to OceanGold officials, the project is also expected to generate jobs and employment of locals in the area.
Chito Gozar, OceanaGold senior vice president for Communications and External Affairs, said the project is expected to contribute in the reduction of carbon emissions in collaboration with the DENR, the Watershed and Water Resources Research Center, local government units and other stakeholders of the Addalam River Basin.
“As the company invests in sustainable bamboo production, our goal is also to reduce poverty by supporting local resource-based economies, rehabilitating watershed and conserving biodiversity,” Gozar said.
He said that while bamboo provides materials for construction, pulp, paper, fiber and food products and medicine, it is also capable of catching as much as 400 percent of carbon per unit area, while giving off 35 percent more oxygen than trees.