A farmers’ bamboo propagation skills building program has been carried out in Iloilo’s bamboo capital Maasin, part of the government’s target to plant 3,898 hectares of bamboo in Region 6.
Bamboo plantations should flourish in Region 6 (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras) after this first bamboo planting training in Maasin, said Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) Executive Director Dr. Henry A. Adornado.
“Bamboo is considered the best conservation material because of its low maintenance compared to other plantations, aside from the fact that there is a high return on investment and faster payback in bamboo,” Adornado said.
The REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Monitor has estimated bamboo’s return on investment at 26 percent, based on studied plantations in Central America.
A total of 68 farmers and bamboo industry leaders were trained by ERDB in bamboo propagation, plantation development, and rehabilitation.
Adornado said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR), ERDB’s mother agency, is targeting one million hectares of cultivated bamboo as part of the extension to 2022 of the National Greening Program (NGP).
The enhanced NGP will rehabilitate the remaining 7.1 million hectares of denuded areas in the Philippines using species such as bamboo.
“This learning event will help solve the shortage of raw materials for the bamboo industry. This is also in line with the government’s goal of reducing poverty, mitigating climate change, rehabilitating watersheds, and conserving biodiversity,” Adornado said.
The Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands, Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC) urged Region 6 farmers to practice science-based planting systems in order for more bamboo plants to survive.
“We are a bamboo-producing region, and we have an abundant bamboo supply in Maasin, Iloilo. But we should plant and grow bamboo in a science-based manner,” BCWERC head Dr. Alicia L. Lustica stressed.
Specific components of the training that was administered by Forester Gregorio E. Santos, Jr. were preparation of potting media, nursery management, plantation maintenance, bamboo stands management, harvesting, enterprise development, and action planning.
Bamboo is often referred to as the “green gold of life” and “grass of hope” with its wide range of application and growing relevance.
It can sequester 12 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, and is touted as an effective tool in addressing soil erosion, landslides, and flooding.
Bamboo is also edible. Its shoots are a source of food rich in fiber, nutrients, and vitamins A, B, and C. Aside from its uses for furniture and handicrafts, bamboo is also used in fiber, clothing, pulp and paper production, food ingredients, beauty products, architecture, and construction.
To expand bamboo products manufacturing, ERDB has partnered with the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Trade and Industry on value adding and marketing of bamboo products.
Bamboo plants are the fastest growing woody plants in the world with a growth rate of 24 inches daily, because it has a unique rhizome-dependent system, data from Plantations International said.
According to the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (Westvardec), Iloilo has 8,085 hectares of bamboo area producing 2.42 million poles every year.
Iloilo supplies raw material requirements for 41 manufacturers, 32 domestic producers, and 9 exporters, Westvardec said. Iloilo’s LGU plans to establish plantations on a total of 58,200 hectares.
“Iloilo has been experimenting on other possible uses of bamboo aside from its household and industrial use. It is used for preparing food. Mixes of tender bamboo shoots are used to clean wounds and treat ulcers. Bamboo leaves are used to fight spastic disorders and bleeding conditions, as well as diarrhea and stomach disorders,” information posted on the My Beautiful Iloilo website said.
As food, bamboo shoots are made of 88.8 percent moisture, 3.9 percent protein, 0.5 percent fat, 5.7 percent carbohydrates, and 1.1 percent minerals.
“The amino acid content of bamboo is higher than cabbage, carrot, onion and pumpkin. Bamboo also contains 17 different types of enzymes and more than 10 kinds of mineral elements, such as chromium, zinc, manganese, iron, magnesium, nickel and cobalt,” the website said.
Maasin’s major product is bamboo charcoal. The company Iloilo Kawayan Marketing in Maasin produces charcoal that is considered to be a natural, ecologically friendly product.
“Used as a fuel, it is smokeless and odorless and is best for barbecues. Bamboo charcoal works as a natural fertilizer and pesticide. It is also used as a deodorizer. It can filter tap water. Put pieces of bamboo charcoal in a jug of tap water, then leave it for 4-5 hours. The water in the jug will taste like mineral water,” the company’s website said.
With its anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, bamboo charcoal is now used as soap ingredient.
“It cleans the skin deeply. Because of the incredible absorbency of the bamboo charcoal with activated carbon, the soap can clean to the very bottom of skin pores and does not leave a residue on the face. The newly cleaned skin pores can receive natural moisturizing from the body’s oils,” it added.