GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 December)– The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for the development of engineered bamboo production as the province’s next flagship industry.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Friday they are working on the acquisition of additional equipment and machinery for the province’s first engineered bamboo production center or hub in Surallah town that is set for commercial operations by next year.
She said the local government, through the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), is currently developing the bamboo hub in partnership with the province’s newly-created Bamboo Industry Development Council and the Surallah National Agricultural School (Sunas).
“We’re looking at availing another possible grant from the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) for the acquisition of the additional equipment and machinery and the expansion of the bamboo hub,” the governor said in her weekly radio program.
The provincial government facilitated the establishment of two bamboo nodes last year through a grant from the DTI’s Rural Micro-Enterprise Promotions Programme (RuMePP).
The bamboo nodes, which received a funding of P350,00 each from RuMePP, were set up at the national highway junction Barangay Palkan in Polomolok town and at a portion of Barangay San Vicente in Banga.
A briefer issued by PEMO described the bamboo nodes as facilities where raw bamboos are cut, sliced, treated and dried. It is equipped with a bamboo pole cutter, two twin rip saws and a treatment splitter.
From the nodes, processed bamboos would be sent to the bamboo hub, where the final processing into finished products would take place, it said.
Fuentes said the development of the bamboo hub, which is located at the Sunas compound, is now almost complete.
She said Sunas has provided a building for the facility based on a memorandum of agreement it signed earlier with the local government-backed Bamboo Industry Development Council.
Once operational, she said the bamboo hub would be capable of manufacturing tiles, planks and other products that may be used for the construction of engineered bamboo products such as chairs, tables, panels and many others.
“We’re initially planning to utilize the bamboo hub for the production of chairs and other office units that are needed by our offices,” Fuentes said.
She said they would later tap the facility for the production of arm chairs and desks for local elementary and high schools.
The governor said Executive Order 879 issued in May 2010 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo mandated the use of the bamboo products in at least 25 percent of the annual school desks and other furniture requirement of all public schools nationwide.
“We usually acquire these from suppliers based in Manila but since we now have our own bamboo hub, we’ll just source them locally,” she said.
To help further develop the industry, Fuentes said they are considering establishing additional bamboo nodes in other strategic areas within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
She added the local government will collaborate with Sunas officials for the creation of a training module and the implementation of a province-wide training program on the production of engineered bamboo products. (MindaNews)