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Bamboo can be potent growth engine for Bicol – Rep Gonzalez

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LIGAO CITY — The bamboo industry in Albay is fast growing as a major economic engine that would spur development in the field of environment and local economy, as well as tourism, an Albay solon said.

Albay 3rd District Representative Fernando Gonzalez said during the launching of the project, dubbed as “City Bambusetum”, that the industry has vast potentials for the environment, livelihood, employment generation, food, energy, and tourism.

“Our major concern here is the environment since our forest lands, mountains are now denuded while our efforts to restore these areas would take some time, we thought of planting bamboos in between the planted trees,” he said during the event on Saturday here.

He said the process involves intercropping. While waiting for the trees to grow, the planted bamboo in two years’ time gets mature and ready for harvest.

The project is designed to plant about 16 to 30 varieties of bamboo on some six hectares of denuded and idle lands in the city.

Currently, there are 15,000 seedlings stored at the nursery.

The Albay lawmaker said the project started in 2014 when various species of bamboo were planted on the two-hectare land beside the Kawa-kawa Natural Park in Barangay Tuburan, four kilometers away from the city proper.

Gonzalez said as a pilot project in Albay, the city government would start buying idle or non-productive lands as an investment to meet the target of building a 100-hectare bamboo plantation in the coming years.

Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua said the bamboo, considered by scientist as a “miracle plant,” is a natural deterrent against the ill effects of climate change.

She said bamboo plants contribute at least 30 percent of the needed oxygen requirements since it converts carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles and machinery into clean air.

Alsua, citing scientific studies, also reveal that bamboo – which releases more oxygen than trees – will also help stabilize riverbanks, regulate watersheds, and protect soil erosion.

Bamboo products would boost the local economy as these can contribute to housing and furniture industry, manufacturing of foods, beverages, wine and beer, clothing materials, insect repellants, toiletries and deodorants and charcoal bricks from bamboo materials.

“Over the years there are products from bamboo materials that would come out in the market, actually there are now products displayed in both local and foreign markets,” Alsua said.

Alsua said, “while it significantly contributes in the various business enterprise, the end in view is how it helps in generating employment.”

The project has already trained volunteers who were given materials. “We are encouraging more people to join us,” she said.

Alsua said the city government has formed an association to engage in bamboo production and this is made up of volunteers from Barangay Oma-oma, an upland village of the city.

Alsua said as they implement the “kawayan sa tinik plantation” under the City Bambusetum, a livelihood center would also be built to address the production and marketing aspect of the project.

Gonzalez said the two-hectare bamboo plantation would be converted into a top provincial Christmas destination, by installing lights on it. Christmas characters made of bamboo materials would also be on display.

Bamboo products such as furniture, houses, clothing materials. food and beverages, charcoal bricks products would also be sold. (PNA)