Social enterprise aims to open more bamboo plantations

Bambuhay, a social enterprise using bamboo cultivation and entrepreneurship, said it was working with a Canadian company to accelerate bamboo planting in the Philippines to meet growing demand.

Mark Sultan Gersava, founder and managing director of Bambuhay, said the sector was at the level of industrialization given the “very high” demand, according to a statement issued by the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport).

He said Bambuhay and the Canadian company are scaling up 40,000 hectares of bamboo plantations across the country. Gersava did not identify the Canadian company.

“In fact, it is only part of the activity and the objective of this industrialization project for large-scale planting and large industrialization production (east) mainly in Pangasinan and the region of Davao and of course Bukidnon, so that’s our direction,” Gersava said.

He said Bambuhay aims to establish a production plant in each region to localize the supply chain, especially raw materials.

“With this we can reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) we produce because everything is made locally.”

Gersava encourages more farmers to plant bamboo to earn more income, and for indigenous communities and illegal loggers to transition to a more sustainable livelihood program.

The social enterprise estimates that it has eliminated 424,000 pounds of plastic, reduced 5.6 million pounds of CO2 and reforested 542 hectares of forest.

Bambuhay’s goal for 2030 is to reforest one million hectares of deforested land and plant one billion bamboo trees.

Meanwhile, Enrique Tacbad, provincial director of the Department of Commerce and Industry (DTI) of Zambales, said the government supports companies that take concrete steps to protect the environment through climate-friendly investments.

Tacbad said the DTI is also spearheading the revitalization of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council across the country and co-leads regional bamboo councils with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (DENR).

“We recognize bamboo as a sustainable raw material, wood substitute and growing industry with the help of passionate bamboo advocates across the country,” he said.

Most bamboo species grow rapidly, but their use has not increased at the same rate.

Lack of investment, weak institutional framework and limited number of skilled people in bamboo craftsmanship are just some of the reasons attributed for the slow growth of the bamboo industry.

The lack of reliable sources of raw materials also discourages investment in bamboo processing, according to Philexport.

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