Ilocos town residents help conserve PHL bamboo species

LAOAG CITY —Residents of Buduan village in Burgos, Ilocos Norte are working in partnership with its local government unit and the state-run Mariano Marcos State University to conserve various species of bamboo to help spur economic development in the countryside.

Recognizing the potential of bamboo as a smart crop for Ilocos farmers while playing an important role of cleaning the air and prevent soil erosion, the Burgos municipal government and MMSU extended assistance to Buduan villagers for the establishment of a bambusetum demonstration project here.

Farmer-cooperator Jumalin Perucho of Barangay Buduan welcomed this development as he hopes to inspire more farmers to rejuvenate the bamboo industry.

Professor Charlie Batin of the MMSU-College of Agriculture Food and Sustainable Development (CAFSD) said the demonstration project is envisioned to serve as a model village-level bambusetum to propagate more species of bamboo where other farmers could source out good planting materials in the future.

Among these species being propagated at the MMSU bamboo nursery are the giant bamboo, machico, calcuta, bayog, yellow and black bamboo, dwarf bamboo, Chinese variegated, iron bamboo and buddha bamboo.

Due to overexploitation to various uses, the bamboo resources have become very much depleted over the years.

Last December, a farmers training was conducted in the area to promote the planting of bamboo in idle lots such as near river banks and other landslide prone areas of Burgos and in nearby towns.

According to Batin, bamboo is the best substitute material in the furniture, handicraft, and construction industries, including its uses for industrial purposes, medicine, pharmaceuticals, as a source of food, biofuel, and environmental protection. It can also grow on any type of soil in the Philippines with low maintenance.

Growing faster than trees, bamboo has very short growth cycle, and it can be harvested three to five years after planting. It is a versatile plant and has listed more than 1,500 uses.

Of the 21 towns and two cities of Ilocos Norte, several farmer-associations here are now engaged in bamboo production and processing, giving them an additional source of livelihood for their families.