Bam: Bamboo Business Booming But…

Private bamboo stakeholders lamented that lack of supply may prevent the country from grabbing a lion’s share of the growing global market.
This was revealed during the Senate hearing on the status of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap conducted by the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship headed by Senator Bam Aquino.
According to different private bamboo furniture makers, there is high demand for their products but cannot keep up due to lack of supply.
Even the Department of Education (DepEd) said it cannot meet its mandate of sourcing 20 percent of their furniture needs such as desk, tables and chairs from bamboo furniture makers due to lack of suppliers.
During the hearing, stakeholders have pointed to the government’s lack of coordinated action in ensuring a steady supply of bamboo poles.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the country has around 50,572 hectares of bamboo forest.
However, it is not enough to cover the market’s monthly demand of eight million bamboo poles.
Under the National Greening Program, the government has allotted just one percent of the country’s 1.5 million hectares of forest as areas for bamboo planting.
For 2015, the DENR is targeting 3,086 hectares of bamboo plantation.
In line with this, Sen. Bam called on concerned government agencies and the private sector to align their plans and programs to properly address the supply dilemma the industry currently faces.
Sen. Bam said the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PDIBC), headed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), must take the lead in addressing the supply issue via a technical working group (TWG).
According to Sen. Bam, Executive Order 879 mandates the PBDIC to provide overall policy and program directions for all stakeholders in the bamboo industry.
The EO also tasked the government to reforest at least 500,000 hectares with bamboo as contribution to the ASEAN commitment of 20 million hectares of new forest by 2020.
“Why aren’t we hitting the target number of bamboo poles needed by the manufacturers,” asked Sen. Bam, adding that the DTI must clarify the roles of the concerned government agencies and other stakeholders under the EO.
“That will be a lost opportunity of income and livelihood for communities and for the economy,” Sen. Bam stressed.
“I would like to be able to address those concerns with recommendations coming from the PBIDC, upon consultation with all of the concerned individuals and institutions,” Sen. Bam added.
Sen. Bam is pushing for a clear bamboo industry roadmap as he sees the industry as another vehicle for the government’s inclusive growth program.
“If we have more communities planting bamboo and there are ready markets left and right to purchase these, that would be a waste if we don’t supply them,” said Sen. Bam.
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