Philippine bamboo industry lacks comprehensive policy

Initial findings of a study, funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), suggest that imposing of “Certificate of Verification (CoV)” for harvested bamboo dampens private sector investment, discourages planting of bamboo, and breeds bureaucracy. There is a need for a more comprehensive policy that would ensure sustainability of the bamboo industry, economically and environmentally. 

The project titled, “Creating an Enabling Environment for a Vibrant Philippine Bamboo Industry: Addressing Policy Constraints and Information Needs,” aims to provide the scientific basis for policy environment on bamboo that is in sync with societal needs; generate database information for dissemination; and propose a draft policy that will encourage bamboo resource development by both the government and the private sector. Preliminary results reveal that the government does not have enough basis and lacks coordination in implementing the existing bamboo policies, particularly, the issuance of CoV. 

 

As per Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DENR) Administrative Order No. 59 series of 1993, CoV is a legal document used by traders and shippers for the movement of bamboo from point of origin to destination. It serves as a proof of the legality of source. 

The use of CoV, as a control mechanism against the unauthorized movement and disposition of illegal bamboo products, is inconsistent with the bamboo plant’s persistence and ability to grow, develop and expand. It fails to recognize the ecological nature of bamboo as a grass - bamboo grows more as it is cut. CoV does not achieve the desired protection of this plant resource. It becomes a hindrance in maximizing the economic benefits we can get from bamboo resource as a raw material in housing, construction and furniture industries. 

Furthermore, there are inconsistencies in the implementation of CoV in terms of the application procedure and fees collected. Where CoV is strictly implemented, some respondents asserted that authorities are taking advantage by collecting higher fee as payment for the release of CoV. Meanwhile, traders of bamboo are stopped at checkpoints, where they still end up shelling out token amounts to avoid being inconvenienced, despite having secured CoV for their shipment. 

To address the issues above, the study advocates a comprehensive policy that will include the following: advocacy programs for bamboo planting in forest and private lands; sustainable management of bamboo resource; community-based data collection and monitoring system; protection of bamboo traders and transporters from undue harassment; provision of incentives and loans; and institutionalization of an agency that will oversee the bamboo development in the country.

Led by Dr. Ramon A. Razal, professor at the Department of Forest Products and Paper Science (FPPS) of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB-CFNR), the project will run for 18 months, and is expected to end in November 2018. The project team members have conducted review of existing policies, gathered statistics and related literature, held workshops, roundtable discussion, site visits, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions.