The issuance of a policy on bamboo 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 said policy is the Department Order 2021-26 (DAO 2021-26) – Rules and Regulations Governing the Establishment, Harvesting, and Transport of Bamboo by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 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) welcomes the issuance of DAO 2021-26.
DAO 2021-26 to help bamboo entrepreneurs, plantation owners
DAO 2021-26 issued in August this year 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 a 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. This makes growing and using bamboo very sustainable.
DAO 2021-26 removes the Certificate of Verification (CoV) as a requirement for harvesting and transporting bamboo. CoV is considered a factor that discourages investment in the bamboo industry due to the tedious and lengthy application process, short validity of CoV, and high cost because of the need to apply for CoV multiple times, as cited in the PCAARRD-funded study on bamboo. The new DAO implements 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 landholders and backyard farms is also exempted if these are for personal consumption and transported within the municipality. Backyard farms may also be registered for commercial production as individuals, provided that they have a steady and sustainable supply, or they may opt to form a cooperative/association, instead.
DENR will also help bamboo entrepreneurs in accessing tech transfer arrangements provided by DOST and concerned units. DAO also provides incentives to bamboo plantation owners for plantation development and bamboo 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 about the importance of the bamboo industry and the issues surrounding the same, a roundtable discussion (RTD) with various government agencies, private sector representatives, and bamboo farmers of Laguna was conducted in 2016 at DOST-PCAARRD. The RTD highlighted the regulations for harvesting and transporting bamboo, specifically, Certificate of Verification (CoV) requirement, which seemed to discourage bamboo investors and hamper bamboo industry development.
As a result, 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.
The study assessed the policies surrounding bamboo resources and came up with a proposed draft administrative order based on the result of regional workshops, RTDs, National Policy Consultation Workshop on Bamboo, and conduct of cost-benefit analysis. The said document was presented and submitted to the DENR through the Forest Management Bureau in 2019.
Several recommendations of Dr. Razal’s team were adopted in the new DAO. This includes 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, and, once acquired, the CoV is only valid for three days. There were also inconsistencies in its implementation in terms of the application procedure, fees collected, and inspection procedure across regions/ provinces/ municipalities.
The published DAO can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N3yXkkrXGsjeIzP1RZ3-4vMnFMaAYK3g/view.