The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is eyeing Panay Island as the center for bamboo production in the country.

This developed as DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed his and the agency’s support to the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD) when it recently held its third summit in Iloilo City.

As part of the DENR’s commitment to the convergence, Cimatu said that with Panay Island being naturally abundant with bamboo, he would “transform [it] as the center for bamboo production and make it the DENR’s major contribution to the NCI-SRD.”

“We will adopt the latest technology in producing lumber and timber out of the bamboo stands. This can usher in inclusive development in the island and provide income and livelihood not only to the marginal farmers, and promote Panay as the country’s ‘bamboo capital’,” he said.

The environment chief then directed DENR Western Visayas Regional Executive Director Francisco Milla, Jr. to conduct an inventory of all existing bamboo plantations on the island, and to fast-track the establishment of bamboo processing plants that would produce engineered bamboo products.

He also instructed Milla to plant bamboo in identified denuded areas around the island.

The DENR in Western Visayas had initially identified 60 hectares for the propagation of bamboo in Panay Island, where more than 6,100 hectares of plantation currently exist.

The agency has committed to plant 13,500 hectares of industrial bamboo species such as bamboo tinik, Giant buho, bayog, and bolo in 2020.

To achieve this, some P10million has been initially earmarked in the 2019 budget for the production of planting materials and capacity building of farmers.

Bamboo is envisioned as one way to address the country’s wood requirements as an alternative for high-value forest products. It has been included as selected species to use for reforestation activities under the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).

Under the NGP, farmers would be capacitated on scientific methods of harvesting bamboo. They would be entitled to regular salaries while caring for bamboo plantations prior to harvest season. ###