The S&T-Based Model Farm for Bamboo at Maasin, Iloilo: The Science Solution for a Sustainable and Vibrant Bamboo Production

One of the problems being faced by the nation today is the insufficiency of lumber. A good alternate for lumber is bamboo. Bamboo culm matures and develops strength properties comparable to most wood species in about three years. Its utility has expanded to include its transformation into various structural floors and panels and engineered bamboo products. Bamboo has spurred worldwide attention as a versatile plant with multifarious uses. Its uses ranged from subsistence to commercial food, to building and furniture. It offers vital economic and ecological benefits to many people in the world.

Bamboo, are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Bamboo is a kind of grass. Bamboo can be propagated by reproductive propagation or the use of the seeds, and the vegetative propagation, the use of rhizomes and cuttings. Among these methods vegetative propagation through the use of one-node cuttings is the most economical. These are easier to handle and more productive.

Bamboo belongs to the grass family, Gramineae or Poaceae. It is commonly known as woody grass because some of its structural growth characteristics resemble those of woody plants. A bamboo often has a tree-like habit. It is woodly and usually hallow clums, complex rhizome and branch systems, petiolate leaft blades and prominent sheating organs. Many bamboo species have big and upright stems, like Dendrocalamus asper which is known locally as Giant Bamboo. Some species are small and look like ordinary grass like Utod or Yushania niitakaymensis.

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Some of the bamboo-made products from the Bamboo Farm at Brgy. Inabasan, Iloilo.

There are about 1,200 bamboo species that belong to at least 80 genera in world. Of these, about 200 species belong to approximately 20 genera found in Southeast Asia. Bamboos regenerates fast, hence, it can be harvested in 3 years. One mother pole can reproduce more than one shoot. It can hold soil erosion, stabilize riverbanks and improve the environment. It can endure in semi-arid and marginal areas. It grows readily on cogonal areas, survives summer drought and grass fire, and develops a forest-like canopy quickly. Likewise, it is the best alternate for wood because its strength properties are as good as with mahogany and other medium hardwood types. Bamboo has many uses. Many Filipino uses bamboo as material for house building, decorations, baskets, furniture, toothpicks, lampshades, fruit tray, flower vases, “kisame”, placemat and many more. Bamboo used for construction purposes must be harvested when the culms reach their greatest strength and when sugar levels in the sap are at their lowest, as high sugar content increases the ease and rate of pest infestation.

Bamboo is one major commodity of the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC). Iloilo aims to become the bamboo center of the Philippines. It has an abundant supply of bamboo poles, mostly Kawayan tinik. As of 1999, the bamboo stands in both natural stands and plantations have an aggregate area of 8,085 ha. The province is producing 2,426,487 poles every year, supplying the raw material requirements of 41 manufacturers, 32 domestic producers, and 9 exporters of various processed bamboo products. Due to the increasing demand for bamboo poles, Iloilo is accelerating its plantation development efforts with a long-term plan of establishing additional bamboo plantations of about 58,200 ha.

With its abilities to be used for a variety of purposes, bamboo is now renowned as the material of the millennium particularly in the province of Iloilo. The most dominant species found in Iloilo is “kawayan tinik”. As such, the bamboo industry in the region is flourishing, employing 2,074 people and boasting a recognized export marketplace for its locally produced bamboo products.

While manufacturing quality high-end products and the products’ design advantage are considered the assets of the industry’s export market, availability of quality bamboo poles and under capitalization of existing firms remain the bamboo industry’s weaknesses. Small firms find it difficult to acquire funds for upgrading tools and equipments and would use any available bamboo poles thus, limiting their production capacity and capability.

To address these concerns, an S&T based model farm for bamboo was developed in Barangay Inabasan, Maasin, Iloilo led by Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Ecosystems Research and Development Service (DENR-ERDS) Region 6 to demonstrate the effectiveness of S&T in improving and maintaining the quality and productivity of existing bamboo clumps and the quality of bamboo woven products produced. This project started on March 2007. The S&T based farm was established in a 1-hectare farm of Mr. Norberto Ceballos, the Magsasaka Siyentista of Barangay Inabasan, Maasin Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center, Maasin, Iloilo.
One of the S&T interventions introduced was the production of good quality bamboo poles from existing bamboo clumps of Mr. Ceballos through the rehabilitation of 100 unmanaged clumps of bamboo in his farm. The rehabilitation technology involved cleaning, thinning, watering, and fertilizing existing clumps to facilitate growth and development of new shoots and the production of good quality poles.

Bamboo Farm at Brgy. Inabasan, Maasin

Bamboo Farm at Brgy. Inabasan, Maasin

As a result, the 100 rehabilitated clumps of bamboo had improved shoot production in terms of size and number by an average of 1 centimeters and 2 shoots or clumps respectively. This was observed a year after the rehabilitation and was expected to significantly improve every year.

As part of the science and technology intervention, construction of a small production of a processing area within the farm was also done. This area served as the small processing plant for the harvested bamboo poles. The manufacture of bamboo woven products with the use of introduced processing equipment and tools as well as proper treatment and preservation techniques had greatly improved in terms of craftmanship and volume. More quality bamboo woven mats or “amakan” were produced and this was shown in the partial budget analysis made in which the established science and technology based farm on bamboo had accued to the Magsasaka Siyentista guaranteed profit on a daily basis.

One of the highlights of this project was the conduct of field day to showcase the interventions done to improve the productivity and increase the income of the Magsasaka Siyentista compared with his existing farm practice. The field day is conducted every 2 months in the farm of Mr. Ceballos depending on the demand of its members. The event was attended by different groups and individuals including representatives for the Local Government Unit of Maasin, Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) Techno Gabay Program Bamboo International, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, media, officials of the barangay and Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones Sr. The field day has three major parts: program ceremony, technology forum and the field tour and exhibit. Farm extensions were also realized and established in Barangays Buntalan, Daja, Abay, Bolo and Dagami still in the Municipality of Maasin. The 5 barangays with the help of a non-profit organization KAPAWA, started their operation a year ago with the farm in the Barangay Inabasan as its “Mother Farm” and its production and processing center. Each farm in every barangay has a group that maintains the farm.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development visits the farm every year for the preservation and monitors the development of the project. The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) is one of the sectoral councils under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). PCAARRD was established on June 22, 2011 through the consolidation of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) and the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD). The Council formulates policies, plans and programs for science and technology-based research and development in the different sectors under its concern. It coordinates, evaluates, and monitors the national research and development (R&D) efforts in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources (AANR) sectors. It also allocates government and external funds for R&D and generates resources to support its program. Mr. Ceballos also joins trade fairs for the exposure of the bamboo products made from his farm. The biggest client of Mr. Ceballos is Mang Inasal. His farm supplies the bamboo sticks in the whole franchise system of Mang Inasal in the whole Philippines. Mang Inasal purchases 5,000 bundles of bamboo sticks in every week. He has also clients from Manila that exports his products. Every Saturday, he delivers his finished bamboo sticks in the Iloilo Central Market and in Iloilo Terminal Market in City Proper, Iloilo City.

Five bamboo production technologies were packaged in the form of flyers and brochures for reproduction and distribution, which had the following titles: “Teknolohiya sa Pagporma sang Tiko nga Layon sang Kawayan”, “Produksyon sang Tambo”, “Ang Pagtubo sang Kawayan”, Ang Pagasikaso sang Puno sang Kawayan” and “Pagpreparar sang Sukdap nga Kawayan para sa Pagrara”.

While there have been significant positive results in this science and technology based farm project, a sustained strategy must be put in place for the multiplier effect to be realized among other bamboo farmers in Maasin. There is also a need to continuously monitor the growth performance of the rehabilitated clumps of “kawayan tinik”, including the implementation of silvicultural treatments as part of the maintenance activities as required of the technology.

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2 thoughts on “The S&T-Based Model Farm for Bamboo at Maasin, Iloilo: The Science Solution for a Sustainable and Vibrant Bamboo Production

  1. Pingback: Bamboo Forests | lilianausvat

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