Press Release
June 30, 2018

Villar highlights PH efforts to develop bamboo industry

Sen. Cynthia Villar shone the spotlight on the implementation of laws as well as legislative initiatives to develop the bamboo and rattan industry in the Philippines during a parallel session on "A Vision for Bamboo and Rattan in ASEAN" at the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress held in Beijing, China.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, also stressed the need to aggressively promote the product development and market access of bamboo and rattan products in the ASEAN Region given that member states account for approximately 20% or USD393 million of the global trade in these products.

"The Philippine government and Filipino environmentalists are well aware of the benefits that bamboo can provide, which also prompted the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 879 that created the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) in 2010," Villar said.

Among others, the order directs the use of bamboo for at least 25 percent of the desk and other furniture requirements of public elementary and secondary schools in our country, as well as prioritizing the use of bamboo in furniture, fixtures and other construction requirements of government facilities.

Villar also shared that the Philippine Government has put in place a National Greening Program through Executive Order No. 26 mandating the planting of some 1.5 billion trees (including bamboo) covering 1.5 million hectares from 2011 to 2016. The program was expanded through EO 193 to include the remaining 7.1 million hectares of unproductive, denuded and degraded forestlands and the period of implementation was likewise extended from 2016 to 2028.

"I am supporting bamboo industries, primarily because bamboo is a cash crop for Filipino farmers and can be a good source of income and livelihood of poor communities, particularly in rural areas in our country," Villar, also the chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said.

Part of Villar's projects being congresswoman of Las Pinas and now as senator and director of the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Goevrnance, is to plant and propagate bamboos.

One of the projects is the Bambusetum, a protected area where 70 varieties of bamboo are grown and showcased. It serves several purposes: first, as a riverside park; second, as part of erosion control measure; and third, as a means in educating people about various bamboo species.

A Bambusetum was also built at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, along Manila Bay in partnership with Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Laguna Lake Development Authority.

"We have volunteers in our city that have planted over 11,000 bamboo culms covering 20 kilometers of our river banks. To maintain the plantations, we linked the needs of one traditional cottage industry of Las Piñas, the lantern-making," Villar said.

Villar added they set up the "Bamboo Stewardship Program" wherein members of the Samahang Magpaparol (lantern makers) ng Las Piñas were awarded with certificates of stewardship over 10 culms of bamboo each. The lantern-makers have the benefit of harvesting the poles to use them as raw materials in traditional lantern-making, provided that they ensure that they continuously nurture and replenish any harvested culms.

Earlier this year, Villar also inaugurated a bamboo processing factory to help spur the bamboo industry's growth. Initially, it will produce home stairs to provide more jobs and livelihood to residents in Las Pinas.

In the Senate, Villar filed Senate Bill 716 or the Bamboo Industry Act to institutionalize the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program and strengthen the government's efforts in encouraging bamboo plantation, research on its development and utilization.

She also co-authored SB 1478 or the "Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act of 2017" which seeks to institutionalize bamboo industry development in our country by creating the Bamboo Industry Research and Development Center (BIRDC).

Under this bill, the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap will be drafted and established.

"It will put in place programs and projects to set in motion all aspects of the development of the bamboo industry - from R&D and propagation/breeding to marketing and investments. Among others, it will also encourage bamboo backyard farming and expand the number of bamboo nurseries," Villar said.

The Global Rattan and Bamboo Congress was organized by the Internationa lBamboo & Rattan Organization (INBAR), the National Forestry & Grassland Administration of the People's Republic of China (NFGA), and the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC).

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