The Philippine government targets to spend over PHP100 million on developing the capabilities of the domestic bamboo industry and promoting Filipino innovations in bamboo architecture despite budgetary constraints.
In an interview on Thursday, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano said concerned officials still have to work out from which agencies the funding will be drawn, but added that most of it will probably come from his department.
Savellano said the heightened impetus to modernize the local bamboo sector comes from the growing international demand for engineered bamboo –high-value products that are sought-after by the construction industry.
“Engineered bamboo production is a multi-billion-dollar global industry now… and we want the Philippines to take advantage of this growing demand. The export potential for this is huge and we cannot waste time,” he said.
However, Savellano lamented that the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBDIC), which is tasked with spearheading the government’s bamboo development and promotion efforts, cannot fully execute its mandate because it remains an unfunded agency.
“The council is struggling to remain operational because of budget issues… but we keep going because we really want to take our world-class bamboo products to the global market,” said Savellano, who is concurrently PBIDC vice chairman.
The PBIDC, an attached agency to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is currently consolidating budgets to implement the 2024 program, he added.
For his part, PBIDC executive director Rene Butch Madarang said that after a recent conversation with Senate President Miguel Zubiri, he is optimistic that the proposed Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act will be passed this year.
He said the enactment of the law will see an expansion of the council’s mandate and earmark a sizable budget for its operations.
“As we await the law’s passage… which will allocate funds for our operations and harmonize all activities of different government agencies on bamboo, the PBIDC is already drafting a master plan for the sector,” he told the Philippine News Agency.
Inventory mapping of bamboo plantations will be critical now that many private companies have started investing in bamboo product manufacturing, he added. (PNA)