Govt boosts investment interest for bamboo with launching of CITE Marikina training center for PBIDC

January 21, 2022

The government is boosting investment interest for bamboo as it launches the Center Innovation and Technology for Enterprise (CITE) as a training center for the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council’s (PBIDC) capacity building and consultative programs.

To be launched in February 2023, the CITE facility of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be the home base for the sector.

It is the opportune time as bamboo is just starting to gain interest among private and public investors in light of the post Covid scenario and efforts to fight climate change, flooding, and natural disasters.

PBIDC Vice Chairman Deogracias Victor B. Savellano said bamboo is now being recognized as a new “tree of life” that gives livelihood to the poorest in the countryside. That includes even Indigenous People (IP)-occupied ancestral domains that dominate 30-to 40% of Philippines potential productive land.

“DTI Secretary (Alfredo) Pascual who has reconvened the PBIDC has thrown his support for our bamboo programs. Even non-government organizations have laid out their plans for the industry. The private sector is very serious about planting bamboo,” said Savellano.

CITE Bambusetum in Marikina City

The CITE facility in Marikina City houses training machines, equipment, function rooms, a dormitory for in-house training, and offices. The CITE also has a Bambusetum in Marikina City that showcases different bamboo varieties and their uses. It has been offering training on bamboo propagule production and bamboo product processing.

“Nobody used to give attention to bamboo before. With PBIDC now reconvened, bamboo programs will have continuity,” said PBIDC Executive Director Butch Madarang.

As involvement of local governments units (LGU) is crucial to bamboo planting, Savellano said the PBIDC executive committee is enjoining the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and League of Cities to be part of PBIDC. Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA and the Climate Change Commission should also be part of it.

“There is a big demand for bamboo. There’s an urgency in what we’re doing. We want to develop the bamboo industry under President Marcos’s term, and we now only have 5.5 years.” Savellano said. “(That’s why) we have to make our programs inclusive. It should involve everybod,y as many who want to support the industry,” he said.

“If we can’t do it now, when else can it be done? President Marcos already made a declaration during the United Nations General Assembly that fighting climate change will be a priority of his administration. He made a call on his birthday on Sept 13, 2022 during the Nationwide Bamboo and Tree Planting Program for us to uphold environmental protection.”

Other members of PBIDC are the heads of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), among others. DTI heads the PBIDC.

The PBIDC bill under House Bill 9576 has been approved for third reading in the Lower House and transmitted to the Senate which had two hearings. But the national election has halted the proceedings. Nevertheless, the bill will be refiled in the 19th Congress.

While the bill has not yet been approved, PBIDC is putting up with tapping resources from different agencies that have a budget, albeit minimal, for different bamboo programs. DTI, for one, has programs for bamboo commercialization and processing, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has bamboo researches.

“Since the budget and programs for 2023 are yet being planned, we are appealing to the different agencies to include bamboo in their programs. The DA, for example, has declared bamboo as a high value crop. Bamboo should be included in its High Value Crop program,” Savellano said.

PBIDC has been created under Executive Order 879. However, a budget has yet to be allocated for bamboo under the General Appropriations Act (GAA). PBIDC is not included in the 2023 GAA.

Even then, Savellano, who is founder of Kilusang 5K (Kawayan: Kalikasan, Kaunlaran, Kabuhayan, Kinabukasan) Foundation, has pushed for bamboo programs including nursery establishment.

Kilusang 5K carried out community-based bamboo reforestation, production and nursery establishment in the Marikina Watershed and at Sitio Karugo, San Rafael, Rodriguez.

Bamboo-made furniture exhibited at CITE. Credit-Bamboo Network PH

Such bamboo production in Puray, Rodriguez was participated by indigenous people, the SaKKAFA non government organization, and the Council Assn of Puray Inc.
Training was supervised by technology experts from the Philippine Bamboo Foundation and Bamboo professionals. It was funded by the Rotary Foundation Grant of the Rotary International districts 3780 and 3830.

Kilusang 5K, along with Rotary and other stakeholders, decided to choose these locations as the deforestation in the Sierra Madre mountains has been known to cause flooding in Metro Manila.

“We are proud to have accomplished many things in the last two years with zero budget. Bamboo is an advocacy for us. We’re fighting for bamboo because you already have the clumps available. With the proper management and rehabilitation, you have a livelihood. It’s a doable program. It’s productive in 3-4 years from planting. ” he said.

“If we can’t develop our bamboo industry, tell me what else are we capable of doing?” he said.

High value-added engineered bamboo. Credit-Bamboo Network PH

EO 879 saw a $8 billion global market for bamboo. It will have tremendous economic multiplier effect was it is seen to replace plastic, metal and other wood as manufacturing input.

Madarang said PBIDC looks forward in the future to have budget allocation.
“We need it for the upkeep of the CITE facility. We need to support how roadmaps of agencies (like the one drafted by DA mainly for bamboo production and food) will cascade into regional offices,” said Madarang.

PBIDC in the last two years has been coordinating agencies’ programs for harmonization and non duplication. It includes the following:

  1. Localization of bamboo programs with now 48 active local councils.
  2. Bamboo Resources Inventory and Technology-Enabled Mapping in the Philippines (Britemap) to develop bamboo resources inventory system.
  3. Consultative meetings with Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 1, 2, 4A, 5, 6, and 7-12.
  4. Series of bamboo summits from Luzon to Mindanao that tapped the Mindanao bamboo advocates.
  5. Series of bamboo smmits n mining in a tieup with the Philippine Mining Club, DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
  6. Declaration of Bamboo Month under House Resolution No. 197 and celebration of World Bamboo Day in order to promote the significance of bamboo planting and production.
  7. PBIDC participation in Smart Bamboo Database Management System of the Philippine Bamboo Society of Advocates, Bamboo Bootcamp, DENR-Forest Management Bureau training,
  8. Pasig River Rehabilitation involving bamboo planting in its tributaries.
  9. Support for DTI’s shared services facilities establishment.
  10. Memorandum of agreement with TESDA on training protocols
  11. Rehabilitation of existing bamboo clusters in the first district of Ilocus Sur under the TUPAD program. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)