Diminishing resources and the surmounting forest wood and conservation concerns have highlighted the need to identify substitutes for traditional timber. It is in this context that bamboo assumes special significance. Through the years, bamboo has gained more importance as nature’s substitute for the endangered rainforest hardwoods.
Bamboo is a versatile, strong, renewable and environment-friendly material. It is a member of the grass family, Gramineae and the fastest growing woody plant on earth. Most bamboo species produce mature poles in 3 years, sooner than any tree species. Some bamboo species grow so fast, with many reaching culm lengths of 25 meters or more. Bamboo can be grown quickly and easily, and sustainably harvested in 3 to 5 year cycles. It grows on marginal and degraded land, elevated ground, along field ponds and river banks. It adapts to most climatic conditions and soil types, acting as a soil stabilizer, an effective carbon sink and helping to counter the greenhouse effect.
Production of bamboo is only the starting point. The real benefits accrue from value-added products. Bamboo is natural and excellent raw material for manufacturing strong and sturdy furniture, handicrafts, and novelty items. Handicrafts (mats, baskets, tools, toys and utensils) are established world market items, produced in finished form or supplied as components to small enterprises for further processing (for example, supply of mats for production of bamboo mat board). There are also emerging industrial and large-scale applications in the manufacture of wood substitutes and composites, energy, charcoal, and activated carbon. Building and structural components represent vast possibility for enterprise, value addition, income and employment.
The Philippine bamboo industry has made significant contributions in generating foreign exchange and rural employment. As it composes the most important cluster of non-timber forest products, revenue from the sale of bamboo and its by-products in the local and exports markets contributes significantly to the national economy each year.
In Region 02, bamboo plays an important role to farmers, basket weavers, furniture makers, and everybody who practically utilize and consume them from construction material, furniture item, small utility and novelty items and even for food.
In Region 02, four (4) bamboo species are widely known and utilized. These are the kawayan tinik, kiling, bayog, and buho and scientifically classified as:
a.) Bambusa Blumeana, or kawayan tinik;
b.) Bambusa Vulgaris, or kawayan killing;
c.) Dendrocalamus merrillianus, or bayog; and
d.) Schizostachyum lumampao, or buho
Production figures and extent of coverage of bamboo stands cannot be deduced from official statistics data.
In short, the production of bamboo as reported in national figures may not have included the undocumented production of bamboo in Region 02 although it is a fact that bamboo in Cagayan Valley is prevalent.
Perhaps the reason why it has not been included in the national tally is that bamboo in Region 02 has not been prioritized as a forest-based product because of the dominance of timber and rattan in Region 02 as a raw material resource being monitored by DENR. Hence, it is high time for this precious raw material resource to be given due recognition and priority in Region 02 in terms of development.
Based on interviews from bamboo suppliers and from observations on the flow of the commodity, bamboo from natural stands in private as well as public lands are being collected by consolidators or traders who buy these in bulk from gatherers/cutters or from the landowner in cases of private lands. These in turn are the sources of the end users and processors of bamboo. Diagram 1 below shows the flow of this commodity in the market.
Industry Cluster Status
The demand for bamboo in Region 02 can be translated into an industry cluster diagram (Diagram 2); where the allied industries dependent on bamboo as material are presented.
Bamboo is utilized by the furniture industry and the gifts, houseware and decors sector specifically on baskets and novelty items.
This is also consumed as food (bamboo shoots or “rabong”) especially among the Ilocanos and Ybanags.
In the fisheries sector, bamboo is utilized as material for fish pens and fish cages. In rural farming, bamboo is prominently utilized. Rural housing also uses bamboo as main material.
In the construction industry, bamboo is also used as scaffoldings in place of lumber which is becoming so expensive.
PRESENT STATUS OF THE BAMBOO INDUSTRY CLUSTER IN REGION 02
DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS IN REGION 02
Developmental Prospects and Strategies
The bamboo industry in Region 02 has bright prospects. In presenting the different opportunities, advantages and lucrative undertakings which this industry is to trek, the different programs and projects have been classified into two general strategies.
A. Economic Development Approaches
Economic development is generally the primordial aim of each sectoral development project. The bamboo industry is considered as a great source of revenue not only in the local market but in the international market scene as well. It is a labor-intensive industry that generally generates employment, investments and the eventual inflow of sales both from the domestic and foreign markets. Hence, the different strategies considered herein to develop the industry are:
1. Establishment of Bamboo Shoot Processing and Canning Plant
2. Establishment of Bamboo Preservation and Treatment Facility
3. Upgrading of Bamboo Processing Technologies
4. Bamboo Finishing Techniques
5. Product Development
B. Environmental Enhancement Approaches
Bamboo is a forest resource-based commodity. It is classified as a non-timber minor forest product and as such is covered by pertinent rules and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-RO2). Sustainable management of the environment is an integral part of every project that utilizes our natural resources as primary raw materials, hence, the following projects are designed to expand our raw material base and at the same time enhancing the environment:
1. Bamboo Propagation and Nursery Establishment
2. Bamboo Plantation Development
3. Establishment of Forward and Backward Industries