MANILA – The Philippine economy is widely seen to benefit from more investments in the nascent local bamboo industry with more markets for the sustainable crop opening up in the US and Europe.
In a webinar organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), environment assistant secretary Joan Lagunda said, aside from helping the country achieve a more sustainable economic growth model, bamboo can also help address social and environmental concerns.
"Bamboo is one of the Philippines' most economically important non-timber forest products. Bamboo's global market was valued at $7 billion in 2006 and was expected to grow to $17 billion by 2020," Lagunda explained.
Among the applications of bamboo, she said, are in the construction of houses and some infrastructure, while its fiber can be used by other industries like paper, charcoal, and textile or clothes.
That's why she said, "the country can tap bamboo as a major resource to replace the reduced supply in the Philippines given the restrictions in cutting timber."
Lagunda noted, bamboo plants can grow by around three inches per day and fully mature in up to two years, while hardwood trees take 30 years until maturity.
She also cited studies that bamboo plantations can capture carbon from the atmosphere and help in the fight against the climate crisis. Likewise, bamboo can also produce 30 percent more oxygen compared to other tree plantations.
Agripreneur and Architect Jed Michael de Guzman is also pushing for more investments in the local bamboo sector.
He said, aside from the construction industry, this can also be used in eco-tourism and the production of food products from bamboo shoots as well as other items like bamboo beer and medicinal products as produced in China.
He also said, bamboo pellets can be used for power generation but it would require thousands and thousands of hectares of bamboo plantations.
But in order for the Philippines to build its name as a global player in the bamboo industry, De Guzman said, the country needs to address one major issue.
"What we need are more designers that can do contemporary designs that will cater to the new emerging markets," he explained.
The ECCP has been a long-time advocate of promoting investments and the use of bamboo in various local industries aimed at not just boosting economic growth and job generation, but also helping the country achieve a more sustainable economic model.