Lawmaker seeks creation of the Philippine Bamboo and Rattan Development Authority

A lawmaker is strongly pushing for the creation of a Philippine Bamboo and Rattan Development Authority (PBRDA) that would harmonize ecological imbalance with livelihood generation and industrial development.

Rep. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, Agham) said House Bill 6470 mandates the government to harness the new-found enthusiasm and initiative in the private sector, provide policy directions and the
incentives for development before it dissipates.

Rattan has always been a material of commerce in the Philippines and elsewhere where tropical forests exist particularly in the Asian region. In addition to furniture, rattan handicrafts made in the Philippines also became well-known world-wide, Palmones said.

Palmones said the rattan industry did not only bring in needed foreign currency, but also provided employment to a large number of Filipinos. In 2008, the reported value of exported rattan furniture
amounted to USD42.41 million, he added.

However, Palmones said the success of the country in developing the rattan-based industries led to rapid extraction of the resources from the natural forest and depleted naturally grown rattan.

On the other hand, Palmones said bamboo is the “tree of life” simply because the uses of bamboo cover from cradle to grave.  Its uses include cribs, kitchen utensils, furniture (in whole or in part) and
construction materials.

“Bamboo is widely distributed in tropical and sub-tropical countries. In the Philippines, it can be found along the breadth and length of the country.  However, its distribution is amorphous, scattered.  It is found mostly in the forest areas where the forest vegetation has been removed or reduced.  Much less is found in the lowlands,” Palmones said.

Palmones said the near depletion of timber resources world-wide has opened the eyes of entrepreneurs and investors to the option of utilizing alternative materials such as coconut lumber and bamboo.

“Bamboo is the better alternative because when bamboo is harvested only a few columns from a clump are cut while one has to cut the entire tree in the case of coconut,” Palmones said.

Palmones said there had been attempts to develop small plantations by private initiatives but the results of these efforts, though commendable, have not generated sufficient resources to support bamboo-based industries.  The government does not have a concerted program to develop the resource base.

He added that the private sector has become cognizant of the tremendous potentials of bamboo in generating employment and income for small-hold growers as well as corporate plantation developers that a number of non-government organizations, particularly the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Incorporated (FBFI) have taken the advocacy for the production of bamboo planting materials as well as bamboo plantation development.

Under the measure to be known as the “Bamboo and Rattan Development Act of 2012,” the Philippine Bamboo and Rattan Development Authority (PBRDA) is created to oversee the development of all aspects of the
production, industrial processing, promotion and marketing of bamboo and rattan.

The Authority shall formulate and harmonize policies on bamboo and rattan to encourage the development of bamboo and rattan plantations and the establishment of bamboo and rattan industries.

It shall likewise improve the quality of life of Filipino farmers, indigenous peoples and rural communities through bamboo and rattan-farming in areas suitable for these products.


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