The lowly bamboo which is often taken for granted by farmers here will be one of the major focus of development this year to boost economic livelihood and environmental protection.
According to Provincial Agriculturist Norma Lagmay, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte is geared towards reviving the bamboo industry by empowering local communities to take good care of their existing bamboo poles.
In partnership with the Mariano Marcos State University’s expertise on bamboo propagation and processing, more farmers here will be trained to rehabilitate their existing bamboo plantations while growing new species to boost their productivity.
Following the recent visit of Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, Lagmay said Tuesday that even the agriculture chief recognized bamboo as an important commodity that must be given focus this year.
Backing this move, a new program dubbed “Kakawayanak Aywanak” (Taking care of my bamboo) will be launched this year to rehabilitate the bamboo industry and encourage more farmers to further appreciate it as a valued commodity and at the same time to protect the environment.
Instead of establishing new bamboo stands, Professor Charlie Batin, a bamboo production expert at the Mariano Marcos State University, said farmers can bring back the healthy condition of their old bamboo clumps through cleaning and proper fertilizer application.
He said the unproductive bamboo stands can be made productive again should farmers take good care of their old bamboo clumps.
According to Batin, bamboo can be a substitute for wood.
“Bamboo is environment-friendly. It grows fast even in marginal soils and produces high amount of biomass. As a reforestation species, it is very useful against soil erosion, he said.
Moreover, bamboo could generate tremendous income for bamboo growers and traders. In the 90s,
Batin said there had been a great demand for bamboo culms but the bamboo stands continue to decrease due to indiscriminate cutting, lack of maintenance, and the absence of systematic and deliberate effort to replenish the resource.
At the Environment and Natural Resources Office, bamboo saplings are now being distributed in various tree-planting programs to rejuvenate the bamboo industry in the province. (PNA)