NAUJAN, Oriental Mindoro – A private-sector think tank for the agriculture sector has lauded various agencies’ efforts to introduce bamboo farming as a supplementary livelihood for communities affected by a recent oil spill in this province.
In an interview on Tuesday, Flor Tesoro, president of the Philippine Bamboo Society of Advocates, said that bamboo cultivation promises huge dividends, but only if farmers are given access to the skills and technology needed to turn the raw material into high-value finished products.
“Bamboo can be processed into many useful products, but farmers often lack the know-how and capital to go into manufacturing. That’s where you can really make money,” he said in Filipino.
Tesoro, formerly an undersecretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), urged concerned government agencies to take the training they offer beyond the bamboo-planting aspect and help farmers move further up the value chain.
He said government financial institutions should make seed money available to bamboo farmers who want to start small manufacturing businesses, especially after they have passed manufacturing and marketing courses.
The bamboo advocate was reacting to a recently-concluded three-day bamboo production seminar spearheaded by the Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) in Naujan town.
The 21 training participants from this oil spill-affected town were composed of agriculture extension workers and farming enthusiasts, according to the ATI.
The actual training was carried out by the Urban and Biodiversity Research Development and Extension Center (UBRDEC) under the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.
In the nearby municipality of Gloria, also reeling from the oil spill’s effects, the local government unit also completed a bamboo cultivation demonstration earlier this month.
Tesoro also pointed out that bamboo has been proven to absorb heavy metals from the soil.
While stopping short of saying that bamboo can also help filter out the petroleum contaminants in the environment, he said “this is certainly worth further study.”
“Bamboo is a good vehicle for inclusive growth,” said Tesoro. (PNA)