Home Agriculture Approving Kawayan Act is seen to boost investments in bamboo-based industrialization

Approving Kawayan Act is seen to boost investments in bamboo-based industrialization


The “Kawayan Act” or the Bamboo Industry Development bill is seen to be approved until Congress’s third regular session in 2024 as government speeds up institutionalized mandate boosting investments into bamboo-based industrialization,

Sponsored by Senator Mark A. Villar, Senate Bill 2513, “An Act Institutionalizing the Bamboo Industry Development of the Philippines,” is now being finalized.  It will be subjected to interpellation by senators perhaps by the first quarter of 2024 for any amendments.

Bicameral discussions ensue to come up with a unified version from the Senate and Lower House bills prior to submission to the Office of the President for ratification.

“We have enough time until the third regular session to complete the whole process,” said Lawyer Ken Sta. Rita, presiding officer at the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship (SCTCE).  Congress’s third regular session begins in July 2024.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano, also Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council vice chairman, said the urgent approval of the bamboo bill will enable realization of the vision of Executive Order 879 on bamboo industrialization.

“We will finally have a true ‘Pinoy’ industry that uses a green material to promote industrialization and dollar generation,” said Savellano.  He authored an early version of a House bill supporting the productive use of the climate-smart native plant ubiquitously grown nationwide.

Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) Executive Director Rene Madarang said the bamboo law as approved will finally institutionalize a counterpart PBIDC office that harmonizes the myriad bamboo programs of government.

“It will all be under one center so that the private sector knows where to go to for different kinds of assistance that will enable us to nurture our bamboo industry,” said Madarang.

Senate Bill 2513 introduces incentives into the industry including making it an Investment Priorities Program product under Bureau of Investments in order to enjoy tax holidays, among others. Bamboo plantations will be exempted from permits for tree cutting, harvesting and transport. Private plantations will be allowed to enjoy free rental of government lands.  Plantations will also be accepted as collateral for government loans.  

Private sector players have also been pushing for incentives and policies that will encourage investments into the sector foreseen to gross $92 billion globally by end-2030.  These are among the motions for which the SCTCE requested written proposals:

1.  Tap the 204,000 hectare mature natural growth bamboo identified by the Forest Management Bureau. It can immediately be transformed into a processing center for high value added products – handicrafts, furniture and bamboo slats that will support indigenous people’s livelihood.

2.  Craft a Bamboo Villages program similar to Thailand’s which is reportedly investing $10 billion in 10 years for bamboo development.

3.  Grant a 40-year bamboo plantation tenure so investors may have enough time to recover investments.  Private sector investments in large scale plantations should be encouraged under an ease of doing business environment.

4.  Land Bank of the Philippines should set up a credit program for micro small medium enterprises (MSME) engaged in bamboo business similar to the program that made a success of Masagana 99 in the 1970s.

5.  Consider issuing a policy mandating 5-10% of construction materials should use locally processed bamboo out the P400 billion construction material industry.

6.  Infrastructure such as farm to market roads and irrigation systems should be established as many bamboo plantations are in unreachable areas.

7.  The bamboo bill should provide stability and predictability in policies as big investors cannot just put their money in policies that keep on changing.

8.  Marketing assistance and supply of big volume of bamboo should be accorded to end-of-value-chain industries such as innovative house builders like Cubo.

9. The bamboo law should include a provision for bamboo as structural timber in the Building Code. Bamboo lumber is a $5 to $10 billion industry.  Government should focus on its development.

10.  Tax incentives should be granted for the mining industry to engage in large scale bamboo plantation as a supportive livelihood program for Indigenous People.  (PR)

Photo Caption: Swiss-Filipino Studio Couture used bamboo in this elegant Paranaque residence. (Credit Arch20)

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