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Author Topic: Bamboo Industry in the Philippines  (Read 83 times)

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Bamboo Industry in the Philippines
« on: June 13, 2021, 10:24:12 am »
By Sec Manny Piñol
Don't raise false hopes!

'We Can't Build Industries
Through Press Releases!"

As Mindanao Bamboo Industry stakeholders prepare for the first-ever Mindanao Bamboo Expo in September, a news item appeared in a leading newspaper yesterday claiming that government has allocated P22-B for the bamboo industry and that over 16,000 hectares had been planted to bamboo.

The same news item also quoted Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez as saying that the Philippine Bamboo Industry aims to plant bamboo in 23,000 hectares this year and 40,000 hectares by next year.

After reading this, I immediately reached out to Rod Bioco of the Bukidnon Giant Bamboo Resources and chairman of the Mindanao Bamboo Industry Development Council to validate the reports.

Here is his reply:

"I do not know where those 16,000 were planted. Mostly kalat-kalat with no masterplan to develop industrial scale processing. That would have required over 3-million planting materials. Maybe mostly in Luzon and partly from eNGP. Except for CS First Green in Pangasinan, which is developing a 10,000-hectare plantation, we are not aware of integrated bamboo program. At best, existing CS First Green bamboo facility can support 300-has. of Tinik Bamboo plantation.

"Landbank has Php11B window for bamboo for quite sometime, no takers. DBP recently opened Php10B window for bamboo, same fate would result at the rate they process loan applications. Stiff requirements are almost impossible to comply. At best, government support thru DTI and DOST could only cover cottage industry level, far from the industrial scale needed to make meaningful achievement.

"Industrial scale projects take years to develop to achieve mass procduction capacity involving  several phases to identify and validate assumptions and derisking every step of the process. :
1. Bench research (pre-feasibility)
2. Test facility (backyard scale production)
3. Demonstrator Plant (industrial prototype facility to validate business plan)
4. Full scale production facility

"We need to generate Engineering data and Economic data.

"BGB is already halfway through phase 3, and need DBP P50m financing to complete the demonstrator plant in Aglayan and for some working capital.

"After completing the demonstrator plant and validating engineering and financial assumptions, we can then build scaled up version of the postharvest facilities in multi locations requiring Php150m each to absorb alll those bamboos planted commercially, and later a Php2B giga bamboo manufacturing facility to absorb all the semi-processed treated raw materials from the postharvest facilities. Banks and government agencies balked at the amount needed. This is the attitude that left us behind by our ASEAN neighbors. Vietnam spent hundreds of million US$ to industrialize bamboo in one of its poorest northern province and in 7 years, started generating $1 billion in revenues and practically eradicated poverty in communities attached to the bamboo value chain. Our DTI still think we can achieve the same using "tingi-tingi" projects. Tokenism will not bring us anywhere near the scale of what Vietnam achieved in a short period. We need to take risk like funding BGB’s effort and scale it up."

So, here we see a very rosy picture painted by government with mention of a P22-B allocation which a real stakeholder is saying is so farfetched from reality.

Also, the target of 63,000 hectares to be planted to Bamboo from 2021 to 2022 is so unrealistic because that would require about 13-million bamboo planting materials.

Not even all of the nurseries in Mindanao or elsewhere in the country could produce that volume.

As a government worker myself, I see this problem of the great disconnect between policies and plans crafted by government technocrats and the realities on the ground as spelled out by actual stakeholders..

Without a viable industry to absorb and process the Bamboos produced by farmers, turning Bamboo into a high-value commodity will just remain as a backyard cottage industry.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has grouped the bamboo stakeholders of the region and crafted a viable Bamboo Industry Development Plan with a complete value chain which addresses not only ecological concerns but also commercial requirements.

All that is needed now is for government to enable the stakeholders to access funding programs and provide support to well-planned development intiatives.

Let's cut on the press releases.

#GovernanceIsCommonSense!

(Two screengrabs show reports on the P22-B Bamboo Industry funding and the target coverage area while the last two photos show treated bamboo slats loaded in a container van to be exported to Vietnam where these will be processed into high value products for export to Europe and US.)


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