Creation of local bamboo coordinating agency pushed

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The creation of a state coordinating agency for bamboo development is being pushed by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) to boost the Philippines’ share of the $20-billion global bamboo market.

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Senate bill (SB) 1478 or the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act (Philbida) would allow better coordination of the various development programs for bamboo by creating the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC).

The measure’s author Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said the bamboo industry can generate numerous jobs and be a top exporter and dollar generator.

“With only a handful of countries competing in the bamboo industry worldwide, there is a great potential for the Philippine bamboo industry to get a bigger piece of the pie in the world market and be one the top export products of the country,” Zubiri said.

The absence of a government agency focused on bamboo hinders development of the industry, he added.
“Currently, there is no institution that is dedicated to oversee the development of the bamboo industry. Among the impediments to realize bamboo industry in the Philippines are the dispersed programs, unsupportive policies, and lack of incentives to attract investments,” he said.

SB 1478 will also create under PBIDC the Bamboo Industry Research and Development Center (BIRDC), which will, among other functions, promote establishment and management of bamboo nurseries, plantations and processing facilities that would accelerate the production and commercialization of bamboo and various bamboo products; promote market access of its technologies and products; evaluate the performance of industry programs and projects; partner with the private sector and other government and non-government agencies in the implementation of the Philippine Bamboo Roadmap (PBR); accept grants, donations and contributions from local and international donors; and conduct capability-building initiatives for farmers, processors, designers, and other 10 stakeholders.

Many enterprises are still utilizing woodworking machines, which are not suitable tools for processing bamboo. There is also a growing shortage of supply of bamboo raw materials, ERDB said.

ERDB is pushing for the immediate passage of SB 1478 and provided technical inputs into the proposed law through the Technical Working Group supported by bamboo experts and scientists of ERDB, led by its director Dr. Henry A. Adornado.

The Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship proposed SB 1478 in conjunction with the Committees on Finance and Ways and Means.

Zubiri said during a hearing last May 30 that Philbida is based on the targets in the PBR which includes scientific propagation, processing, utilization, business development, and commercialization of Philippine bamboos.

The PBR requires bamboo to take at least 20 percent of the annual planting materials needed in the National Greening Program. It mandates the use bamboo in the manufacture of at least 25 percent of desks and chairs in public primary and secondary schools.

Zubiri said bamboo growing has important environmental benefits, absorbing carbon dioxide better than trees and providing 35 percent more oxygen than trees.

It also aids in riverbank stabilization and erosion control.

After the sponsorship speech last May 30 by Senator Zubiri, Senator Richard Gordon and Senator Loren Legarda expressed their support for the bill.

The country’s bamboo roadmap targets expansion of bamboo nurseries with quality planting materials. It ensures propagation and breeding, site species matching and plant nutrition, soil and water conservation practices and encourage bamboo backyard farming.

23 bamboo propagules of kawayan kiling, kawayan tinik, giant bamboo, yellow bamboo, iron bamboo, and variegated bamboo, along with information materials were distributed by ERDB to the Senators.

Other government agencies going on record as supporting the bill’s passage were the Department of Trade and Industry represented by the Board of Investments and Design Center of the Philippines; Department of Agriculture represented by the Bureau of Plant Industry; Department of Science and Technology, represented by the PCAARRD and Forest Products Research and Development Institute; Philippine Export, Inc.; Philippine Bamboo Foundation Inc.; LandBank of the Philippines; and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

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