Florida-based Rizome Philippines has announced that it is investing $100 million (P5.5 billion) in an engineered bamboo plant in Cagayan de Oro.
The company said the quality of Philippine bamboo wood, particularly those from Giant Aster species that grow abundantly in Mindanao, can compete with lumber from other countries.
“The investment is big. But even now, our business is already a billion-peso industry. And it employs thousands,” former Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr. said in a statement.
Lorenzo is a global investor at Rizome through subsidiary Bamboo Ecologic Export Corp., which is bringing in cutting edge, proprietary technology in bamboo wood manufacturing.
“I became a global investor because I want to bring the best technology here. I don’t want the Philippines to be second class.”
Despite China’s vast bamboo plantation, Lorenzo said the Philippines can also compete with any country in the world in terms of bamboo wood quality.
“I came across group of Americans who for 13 years were producing from Vietnam high-end, prefabricated homes made of bamboo. The same group studied ways by which bamboo can be reengineered using technology,” he said.
“After 13 years, they finally decided after visiting Brazil, Indonesia, China, India that the Philippines has the best bamboo.”
Rizome’s bamboo manufactures are shipped in container loads to original equipment manufacturers in America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Meanwhile, Lorenz said he met with Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) Vice Chairman Deogracias Victor Savellano who has been pushing for priority legislation to institutionalize execution of Executive Order (EO) 879 issued in 2010.
The Lower House has approved on second reading House Bill 7941, which aims to promote the development of the sector.
PBIDC noted that the bill supports the provisions of EO 879 which seeks to enable the Philippines to compete with China for the $8-billion bamboo market.
“Please make it a priority. I hope government would be friendly toward a new industry. Government is technically pushing housing. Why not import-substitute all the components of housing construction?” Lorenzo said.
The company said bamboo is as naturally sustainable as it is aesthetically beautiful.
“As bamboo grows, it absorbs 10 times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than an equivalent acreage of trees. Bamboo also releases 35 percent more oxygen than a tree.”