Engineered bamboo, which is being developed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to be a replacement for wood in furniture making, is expected to hit it big in the foreign markets in the next few years.
The DTI said the bamboo development and innovations are used in making high-quality furniture and home decorations.
Senen Perlada, director of the DTI’s Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP), said engineered bamboo will boost the bamboo industry in preparation for the start of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
“Engineered bamboo can provide Philippine furniture manufacturers the competitive edge over Asean [Association of Southeast Asian nations] competitors,” Perlada said.
The engineered bamboo has huge export potential since bamboo is endemic in the country, bamboo plantations can thrive nationwide, and new technologies are readily available for adaption, he added.
Margie Pastrana of the Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines said engineered bamboo is a good replacement for wood since it gives durability and aesthetic of the product.
“The process of creating engineered bamboo has made the raw material more durable and very attractive, since the manufacturing process saves and enhances the inherent beauty of the cut bamboo,” she said.
Initially focusing on local campaigns, Aklan Director Diosdado Cadena Jr. of the DTI said they manufactured and designed products made of engineered bamboo “to meet the furniture and furnishing requirements of the Boracay market with its cosmopolitan clientele.”
Cadena said introducing engineered bamboo products to Boracay will increase the sales of the declining bamboo furniture and furnishing market overseas.
The initiative for looking at bamboo as a replacement for wood came as a response to the total log ban which prohibits the extensive cutting of trees. The DTI is conducting fairs to market the bamboo to increase the industry’s revenues as well as improving the bamboo plantation in the country to be useful in local manufacturing.
The enthusiasm for engineered bamboo as a wood substitute is not shared by University of the Philippines Los Banos professor Ramon Razal.
In a study. Razal “not all bamboo varieties meet the requirements for a financially viable engineered-bamboo enterprise.”
In 2012, bamboo furniture sales fell by 56.9 percent to $481,195 compared to 2011. Primary markets of local bamboo furniture included the United States with $261,020 sales; France with $64,806; and the Netherlands with $35,116.
KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO