Technology transfer pursued by PBIDC with private, research firms as Base Bahay for bamboo development for fiber, housing, biomass

May 2, 2023

A technology transfer program has been pursued by the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) with private firms as Base Bahay and local government for the development of bamboo for low to high-end products– fiber, housing, fuel, and biomass.

   In an Usapang Kawayan forum held in Mendez, Cavite, more bamboo partnerships are reported to be pursued  for bamboo technology sharing and commercialization, according to PBIDC Vice Chairperson Deogracias Victor B. Savellano. 

   These potentially growing tie-ups also include research agencies like Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), and local government units (LGU) as Miag ao, Iloilo and Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte.

   Sustainable, socialized housing  using bamboo has been shown possible by Base Bahay Innovation in its bamboo villages in Bagong Silangan, Quezon City and Estancia and Jaro, Illoilo, among others.  The houses are disaster-resilient designed to resist typhoons.

   “This is a very good program to support President (Ferdinand) Marcos’s program for housing so that more socialized houses can be built,” said Savellano.

   To further advance the use of bamboo in modern housing, the Philippine Institute of Architects, in a program called “Bamboo’s Tahanang Kawayan,” has been tapped to integrate bamboo in its designs for more sophisticated housing materials.

   Consultation between PBIDC and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) has started  to look into cement bamboo frame technology as construction material for socialized housing.

   Also in discussion on possible bamboo partnership for housing  is with former Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr. who now runs Rizome Philippines. 

   For the manufacture of engineered bamboo for home finishing and construction material, Rizome Philippines supplies a type of giant bamboo, Dendrocalamus asper, to international partners, particularly in Florida, United States.

   The government has been strengthening the function of PBIDC since it was convened on Dec. 22, 2022 by Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual to fulfill its mandate to contribute to industrial development under Executive Order 879.

   As PBIDC practically has yet to be budgeted by government, a proposed budget has been filed with Philippine exports Federation (Philexport).  Department of Trade and Industry Regional Director Leah P. Ocampo has also led the crafting of resolutions on a more robust PBIDC function.

   Congressman Joeman Alba of Bukidnon will refile the PBIDC bill (House Bill 9576, Senate Bill 605) which will institutionalize PBIDC as the umbrella organization to steer bamboo to its industrial development role.

Bamboo Textile Fiber Innovation Hub. Credit- PTRI

Bamboo for energy

   For the possible use of bamboo for charcoal as fuel and for biomass, PBIDC has been in talks with Dr. N. Barathi who has developed India’s Beema bamboo for its use as one of the best sources of generating energy.  In the Philippines, the Bayog bamboo species, Bambusa spinosa, may be the equivalent of Beema bamboo for renewable energy–  biomass for heating and cooking.

    FPRDI has also a developed a technology on bamboo’s use for charcoal or fuelwood.  Its bamboo charcoal is cheaper, energy-efficient and is ecology-friendly.  Upland people do not have to do kaingin (forest burning) to produce cooking fuelwood.

   For the propagation of bamboo, a tissue culture technology of the FPRDI is planned to be adopted in PBIDC’s own bamboo plantation program such as those in Karugo, Puray, and Upper Marikina Watershed in general.  Tissue culture will enable massive seedling production. 

Bamboo fiber

   For bamboo fiber, PBIDC is partnering with New York-based Filipino-American fashion designer and textile technologist Anthony Legarda. He has worked with the PTRI and advanced the development of abaca fiber and other indigenous materials.

   “What is good with bamboo for fiber is recovery is big at 35% per pole, while recovery in abaca and other fibers is only at 2%,” said Savellano.

   The Environment Research and Development Bureau’s (ERDB) Bambusetum in Los Banos is also eyed to be replicated by PBIDC nationally. 

   “Where can you find such place with the genetic resource of such large number of bamboo species? It is good to replicate this Bambusetum of ERDB because many of these species grow in different locations all over the country,” said Savellano.

   Irene Marcos Araneta, herself President Marcos’s sister, is involved in the development of bamboo for fiber.  She may enter into similar collaboration with PBIDC in order to give more livelihood to Ilocos Region weavers. 

PBIDC Vice Chairman DV Savellano, PBIDC Exec. Dir. Rene Madarang visits a DTI Shared Service Facility in Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija producing bamboo slats for housing

These are other possible partnerships:

1.  Health Undersecretary Camilo Cascolan will explore the natural properties of bamboo as medicinal plant.

2. For bamboo planting expansion, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Pasay City LGU eye the planting of bamboo for urban landscaping and livelihood for urban dwellers. 

   The University of the Philippines Manila Alumni Association is also supporting bamboo planting for its “Adopt a Estero” program led by PBIDC Executive Director Rene Madarang. Planting programs are also being discussed with the National Movement of Young Legislators.

3.     PBIDC and KIlusang 5K  Foundation have been meeting with different Local Government Unit (LGU) heads for a Kawayan Karavan and Lakbay Aral for the exploration and development of bamboo for varied uses.  In Nueva Ecija, the Kawayan Karavan was held in plantations and shared service facility in Gen. Tinio and Fort Magsaysay.

4.  To market bamboo products internationally, a potential partnership is with Davao Investment and Tourism Center and Mindanao Development Authority. 

   This– along with CITEM (Center for International trade exhibitions and Mission), Pampanga Furniture Makers led by Myrna Bituin that participated in the 2023 Philippine International Furniture Show, and Tourism Alliance Group (TAG) which promotes eco farm tourism and bamboo in their tourist destination meetings.

5.  Manila Water , which has a major function to protect water sources from watersheds, is eyed to collaborate with PBIDC on planting programs. 

6.  The bamboo manufacturers of Maasin, Iloilo which produce charcoal briquettes, toothpick, chopstick, and barbeque sticks may be able to share their technology to other entrepreneurs through a link with PBIDC.

   The Pangabuhian Weaving and Fiber processing center in Miag-ao, Iloilo may support a similar collaboration.   

7.  A PBIDC visit  to Davao Bamboo Sanctuary and participation in Davao Bootcamp may turn out for the further use of bamboo for housing and other industries. 8.  Another possible partnership is with the academe — the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology for the development of bamboo for varied uses.  PBIDC may further support the First Gen Hydropower Corp. which has a bamboo plantation in Pantabangan Dam, Nueva Ecija. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

FEATURED PHOTO Former Agriculture Sec. Luis P. Lorenzo Jr. who now runs Rizome Philippines meets with PBIDC Chairman Deogracias Victor B. Savellano, PBIDC Exec. Dir. Rene Madarang. Rizome Philippines supplies bamboo to Florida-based maker of engineered bamboo.

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