As the number one producer of bamboo on Panay Island, the local government of Maasin in Iloilo will further boost its bamboo industry through product development training for villagers.
“For how many years, we saw that we settle in the raw materials. It’s just the basics of cutting off the bamboo and selling it at low prices,” Maasin Mayor Francis Amboy said in an interview on Friday.
He said the bamboo production in town can reach more heights through tapping the help of the academe and cooperatives.
Starting May this year, Amboy said bamboo growers and the locals will receive product development training from the local government unit and the partner academe, the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U).
“We will conduct training to the locals and we will develop the skills for them to produce marketable products and not settle on raw materials only,” he said.
The training, which will be done per cluster, will first benefit the locals in the villages of Bolo, Dagami, Trangka, Nagba, and Daja.
“We will start here because we see that the people in these villages still have interest in bamboo production,” he said.
The training will be funded with PHP4 million from the local government unit.
The finished bamboo products that will include souvenirs and furniture, among others, will be marketed through the help of the Maasin Kawayan Cooperative.
Amboy bared the cooperative has a PHP11-billion asset which some can be allocated for a “One town, one product” program.
With 4, 000 hectares of land area dedicated to naturally growing bamboo, Amboy said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu has proposed making the island as the country’s bamboo capital.
The mayor said the Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar has also declared bamboo as a high-value crop.
Amboy is planning to approach Dar for any possible help to bamboo farmers.
The upcoming road development project in Trangka village will also allow more government agencies that will aid bamboo growers. (PNA)