The enhanced version of the Philippine bamboo roadmap—the blueprint that will guide the bamboo industry to achieve growth and competitiveness, is nearing completion as various stakeholders from the industry, academe, and concerned government agencies engaged themselves in an industry roadmapping exercise to discuss and gather inputs to finalize the roadmap.

The Board of Investments (BOI), the industry development and investments promotion arm of the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), through its Industry Roadmapping Program, facilitated the Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap Workshop recently where the draft enhanced roadmap was presented and commented and various concerns such as the state of the industry, support to industry development, SWOT analysis, profitability analysis, strategies and timelines; and opportunities for cooperation among stakeholders and implementation plan of the bamboo industry roadmap were discussed.

“The workshop is deemed important since it gives us not only a better understanding of the bamboo industry, but also an opportunity for stakeholders to cooperate in further developing the industry,” BOI Resource-Based Industries Service Director Nestor P. Arcansalin said during the workshop, adding that the BOI is fully supporting the industry’s various initiatives to further boost its competitiveness in both the local and international markets.

During the meeting, stakeholders noted the reports and analyses done on priority areas and high potential growth sectors of the bamboo industry.  Propagators of bamboo planting materials and plantation developers were highlighted on the supply side. Proponents of furniture and handicrafts, specialized products, engineered-bamboo, construction, agriculture and fisheries, biofuel, food products, pulp and paper, bamboo chips as fuel, and chemical products sectors comprised the demand side.

A review of the issues raised by bamboo producers and processors were also discussed and among them focused on the availability of raw materials, government policies and regulations, research and development, and bamboo industry competitiveness.  Participants from the private sector also shared information on newly-developed bamboo products and big-ticket projects for the bamboo industry.

The inputs and feedback from the participants of the workshop will be incorporated in the enhanced version of the draft roadmap.  Upon acceptance of the roadmap by stakeholders, BOI will facilitate the formation of a Technical Working Group that will implement plans, programs, and projects under the roadmap.

Dr. Florentino O. Tesoro, in his capacity as consultant of the industry, presented the draft roadmap to stakeholders.  With the vision of having a progressive, dynamic, productive, and globally competitive bamboo industry with a sustainable resource base, the enhanced version specifically identified the industry’s short to long term goals, objectives, and strategies.

The industry’s short-term goals stated that by end of 2017, the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) is strengthened through a Republic Act or an Executive Order. In the same year, an inventory of bamboo resources and bamboo enterprises should also be completed and data management system on resources and enterprises already established.

Created through Executive Order No. 879 signed by President Gloria Arroyo in May 2010, PBIDC promotes the local bamboo industry development project in the country.  It is tasked to identify, prioritize and recommend initial strategic interventions, research directions and critical data while a Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Plan (2010 to 2020) is being drawn up.

The draft roadmap recommends pursuing the enactment into laws of two bills—an Act Institutionalizing a Philippine Bamboo Development Program authored by Senator Bam Aquino under Senate Bill 3206 filed February 1, 2016; and another bill—an Act to Promote the Development of the Bamboo Industry in the Philippines which amends certain provisions of Executive Order No. 879 creating the PBIDC, expanding its mandates, and providing for additional personnel and regular budget of the Council Secretariat.

The following year, the first five-year cycle of Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program (including Bamboo Research Program) is expected to sail through Congress and up for approval by the President. By the year 2020, around 16,000 hectares of bamboo plantations is also expected to be established.

Among the medium-term goals, the second cycle of the Bamboo Industry Development Program is expected to be enacted and implemented through 2025. By then, at least 25 million culms will be available for the industry. Five additional years through 2030 project an additional 42,000 hectares of bamboo plantations will have been established for culm production and an additional 75 hectares for shoot production. This year, at least 45 million culms will be available for the industry.

As part of the long-term goals, the third cycle of the bamboo industry development will be in full motion through 2035 with 68 millions culms available. By 2040, culm production will spread to around 80,000 hectares.

The contribution of the bamboo industry to gross domestic product is integrated with wood, cane and rattan articles.  Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that manufacturing value-added of said article group amounted to P13.30 million in 2014 or 0.19 percent share of the total manufacturing value-added of P1.664 billion.  There are about 95 bamboo enterprises in the country.  The industry currently employs around 190,000 workers, according to industry figures.

In terms of exports, bamboo products are lumped with the total furniture and furnishings, and housewares exports which have steadily increased in the last five years, from only US$2.053 million in 2010 to US$10.791 million in 2014, according to data from the DTI Export Marketing Bureau.

The continuously growing advocacy for green products can be attributed to the already $8 billion per annum global market for traditional and non-traditional bamboo products. Bamboo is fast becoming a cost effective and attractive complement and/or alternative to plastic, metal and wood materials and can generate more jobs and self-employment opportunities in both rural and urban areas.

EO No. 879 also directs the Department of Education to allocate at least 25 percent of its annual requirements of school desks and chairs of all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide be made of bamboo.   The annual allocation of DepEd for school furniture is P1 billion. This translates to P250 million for bamboo desks and chairs, which the bamboo industry can take advantage of.