By Leonel Abasola

PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc

MANILA – Senator Mark Villar said Wednesday it is high time to push the development of the bamboo industry, which is expected to contribute USD3.5 billion to the Philippine economy.

Villar made this remark as he pushed for the enactment of Senate Bill (SB) 2513 or the Institutionalization of the Bamboo Industry Development in the Philippines or the Kawayan Act.

“Through the Kawayan Act, we can look forward to a Philippine economy that stands as mighty and grows as rapidly as bamboo does. Similarly, the development of our bamboo industry mirrors the persisting Filipino resilience amid various challenges. No matter what hinders us, no matter what sways and bends us, we will continue to push forward towards progress and development,” Villar said in his sponsorship speech.

He cited the research and development programs being carried out by the departments of science and technology, trade, environment, and agriculture in an attempt “to address the insufficiency of information and data resources, among others.”

“Yet, these initiatives are fragmented and this is worsened by the perception of the private sector for a lack of a functional governmental body overseeing the development of the industry, which thus hinders its optimization,” he added.

To address these concerns, the Kawayan Act seeks to institutionalize the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council, which was created by Executive Order 879, to serve as the central body for overall policy and program direction for all bamboo stakeholders.

The Council is also mandated to formulate and implement the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap.

SB 2513 also seeks to further provide a comprehensive approach to the development of the bamboo industry as its provisions mandate the departments of environment, trade, science and technology, tourism, and education and their attached agencies to use bamboo in government programs and to scale up the use, investment promotions, research, and development of bamboo.

“The Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap will be guided with actionable, time-bound, and realistic objectives that are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan, in which the former will include substantial and attractive incentives to encourage investments in the bamboo industry,” he said.

Villar cited multiple economic potentials and environmental values of the bamboo industry, including its trade value, which is expected to reach USD88.43 billion by 2030, among others.

He added that aside from the USD3.5 billion the industry is expected to contribute to the economy, bamboo also has efficient pollution control capacity as it releases 38 percent more oxygen than trees and sequesters 12 tons to 17 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare. (PNA)