A FLORIDA-based building materials company, Rizome, has invested $100 million in an engineered-bamboo manufacturing facility in Cagayan de Oro, its Philippine unit said on Tuesday.
Former Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo, Jr., an investor in Rizome Philippines, said the investment was executed via Bamboo Ecologic Export Corp.
In a statement, Mr. Lorenzo said the company is “progressively infusing” the capital in the Cagayan de Oro plant.
“I became a global investor (because) I want to bring the best technology here. I don’t want the Philippines to be second-class. The investment is big. But (even now) our business is already a billion-peso industry. And it employs thousands,” Mr. Lorenzo said.
The investment announcement follows third-reading approval in the House of Representatives of House Bill 7941, or the proposed Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act.
“Currently, we are the fifth largest bamboo exporter in the world. With smart planning and malasakit (concern) especially for our bamboo planters, the Philippine bamboo industry could be a behemoth a few years down the road,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said in a statement on Monday.
Mr. Lorenzo pushed for the use of bamboo as a building material. “Government is technically pushing housing (so) why not import-substitute all the components of housing construction,” he said.
The US-based parent Rizome grows bamboo in Florida as well as the Philippines, touting the crop’s sustainability and potential for carbon sequestration. Its manufactured products include panels, boards, and veneers.
The Philippine unit buys bamboo from agrarian reform beneficiaries in Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and the Agusan and Surigao provinces, as well as from communities in mining areas.
“An important priority policy is to make bamboo a recognized construction material in the implementation of the Building Code,” Rizome International said.
“This, an engineered bamboo is a proven technology strong as steel, tough as concrete, fire resistant, water resistant, pest-free, and as beautiful as hardwood,” it added.
Mr. Lorenzo said the new passenger terminal at the Mactan Cebu International Airport is the first terminal in Asia made of lamellar wood.
“The beams and all that — we make all of those; we make these bullet proof. We can make beams as long as you like. No more steel, no more concrete,” he said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera