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DENR pushes creation of bamboo agency

Published on 11 June 2017 Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for the establishment of a state coordinating agency for bamboo development to capture a huge chunk of the $20-billion global bamboo market.

The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), a DENR-attached agency, is pushing the immediate passage of Senate Bill No.1478 or the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act (PHILBIDA), as well the creation of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC).

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who sponsored the bill, said the absence of a government agency focused on bamboo hinders the development of the industry.

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

“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.

The PHILBIDA will be based on the targets of the Philippine Bamboo Roadmap which include scientific propagation, processing, utilization, business development, and commercialization of Philippine bamboos.

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

It also 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.

Bamboo is considered as high-value for mitigating climate change given its fast biomass production and renewability.

DENR plans to invest in the development of bamboo, which not only has proven high carbon sequestration capacity to support climate mitigation, but may also sustainably support local resource-based economies.

Studies showed that bamboo has the capacity to sequester 400 percent more carbon per unit area and gives off 35 percent more oxygen than other trees.

Bamboos can also stabilize embankments and prevent erosion brought about by sea level rise, which is one of the identified impacts of climate change.

Of the total 1,000 species of bamboo, 49 of which grow in the Philippines, giving the country the potential to become the second largest bamboo producer in the world, next to China whose current market share is around 50 percent.

In 2015, the international market value of commercial bamboo reached $20 billion amid the growing demand for eco-friendly alternative to wood to conserve the world’s remaining forests.

Other agencies pushing for the passage of the bill are the departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, and Science and Technology, Philippine Export Inc., Philippine Bamboo Foundation Inc., Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Source: The Philippine Star | 11 June 2017