Stakeholders welcomed the new government policy on bamboo, saying that it will encourage more Filipino farmers to grow bamboo in their lands, help local and national development, and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The policy is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) Department Administrative Order 2021-26 (DAO 2021-26)-Rules and Regulations Governing the Establishment, Harvesting, and Transport of Bamboo.
As a council with bamboo as one of its main focus commodities, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) welcomed the issuance of DAO 2021-26.
DAO 2021-26 to help bamboo entrepreneurs, plantation owners
DAO 2021-26 that was issued in August amended various policies on the establishment, harvest and transport of bamboo products with the aim of encouraging the development of bamboo plantations and promotion of sustainable use of bamboo as wood substitute.
Bamboo is durable, versatile and multifunctional, and can be used to make various products, such as furniture, handicrafts, construction material and chemical products.
It has high carbon capturing capacity compared to other plants, which makes growing and using bamboo very sustainable.
DAO 2021-26 removed the Certificate of Verification (CoV) as a previous requirement for harvesting and transporting bamboo.
CoV was considered a factor that discourages investment in the bamboo industry due to tedious and lengthy application process, its short validity of only three days, and its high cost because its use requires multiple applications.
The new DAO 2021-26 requires only a one-time registration fee for a Certificate of Bamboo Plantation Registration, which has no expiration until the bamboo stand is declared unproductive.
Registration of tenured forest land holders and backyard farms is also exempted, if they are for personal consumption and transported within the municipality.
Backyard farms may also be registered for commercial production as individuals, provided they have steady and sustainable supply, or they may opt to form a cooperative/association, instead.
DENR will also help bamboo entrepreneurs in accessing technology transfer arrangements provided by DOST and concerned units.
DAO 2021-26 also provides incentives to bamboo plantation owners for development and processing enterprises, and outlines guidance on capacity-building, research and development, technology transfer, financial subsidy, and other support activities.
Contribution of DOST-PCAARRD in DAO 2021-26
With awareness of the importance of the bamboo industry and the issues surrounding it, a roundtable discussion (RTD) with various government agencies, private sector representatives and bamboo farmers of Laguna was held in 2016 at DOST-PCAARRD.
The RTD highlighted the regulations for harvesting and transporting bamboo, specifically, the much-criticized CoV requirement.
As a result, the DOST-PCAARRD supported a policy analysis project in 2017 to investigate the issue and provide scientific basis to create an enabling policy environment for the bamboo industry.
The project titled, “Creating an Enabling Environment for A Vibrant Philippine Bamboo Industry-Addressing Policy Constraints and Information Needs,” was implemented by the University of the Philippines Los Baños under the leadership of Dr. Ramon Razal, a professor in the Department of Forest Products and Paper Science of UPLB College of Forestry.
The study assessed the policies surrounding bamboo resources and came up with a proposed draft DAO based on the result of regional workshops, RTDs, the National Policy Consultation Workshop on Bamboo, and conduct of cost-benefit analysis.
The document was presented and submitted to the DENR through the Forest Management Bureau in 2019.
Several recommendations of Razal’s team were adopted in the new DAO. This includes the registration of bamboo plantations that now serves as the only requirement for the cutting and transport of harvested bamboo poles, as opposed to the previous policy where a CoV was required.
CoV, as found by a 2017 study, was a disincentive to bamboo growers because acquiring it is expensive and time consuming. Farah Y. Sevilla and Monica B. Castillo/S&T Media Services