GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 Nov) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 is embarking on the massive rehabilitation and expansion of bamboo plantations in South Cotabato province in a bid to hasten the development of the area’s bamboo industry.
Engr. Mama Samaon, DENR’s provincial environment and natural resources officer, said they are set to launch a program that will rehabilitate some 90 hectares of bamboo plantations along the province’s major rivers – Allah, Sapali and Banga.
He said South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes has committed to pour in some P2 million through the for the project.
“This initiative is aimed to complement the efforts of our local bamboo industry players who are currently starting to establish their niche in the production of various bamboo products,” Samaon said in a report from the South Cotabato Information Office.
Aside from the project, he said they are also targeting to plant 25,000 bamboo seedlings along the banks of other rivers to replace those that were earlier destroyed by severe flooding.
Samaon said the DENR has been pushing for the massive planting of bamboo as an alternative to fruit bearing trees and hardwood since it grows five times faster than trees.
He said it also offers a potential source of income for farmers since bamboo products are presently gaining popularity in the markets.
Samaon noted that in South Cotabato, bamboos are used as poles and split for flat baskets, props to support fruit-bearing bananas, for construction of sheds and nipa huts or bahay kubo, furniture and various handicrafts.
Most of the products are marketed locally and in nearby provinces and cities within the region, he said.
Samaon said the top producers of bamboo products are Koronadal City and the municipalities of Tampakan, Banga, Tantangan, Tupi, Polomolok and Lake Sebu.
The official said a company based in Davao City recently met with bamboo growers in the province to explore the forging of a supply contract for the production of 7,500 bamboo poles per month for three years.
The provincial government earlier helped establish the South Cotabato Bamboo Industry Development Council, which was initially tasked to formulate plans and harmonize all bamboo-related programs and projects in the province.
The council was also mandated to set policies and program directions for the promotion and development of bamboo as an industry, vital source and means of environmental protection and disaster management as well as for climate change adaptation.
Samaon said the newly-established council is slated to join the upcoming sub-regional bamboo conference in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao to discuss possible convergence initiatives as well as the region’s potentials and capacity for bamboo production. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)