A BILL has been filed at the House of Representatives seeking to encourage the adoption of plantation production of bamboo, as well as research and development to promote its wider use.

House Deputy Majority Leader and Las Piñas City Rep. Camille A. Villar filed House Bill 3309, which if passed will become the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act of 2019.

The bill hopes to set up the Bamboo Industry Research and Development Center (BIRDC) “tasked to continuously provide relevant technologies and new products to the bamboo industry.”

The measure requires that bamboo represent 20% of the annual planting of the national greening program a reforestation initiative. It also calls for 25% bamboo content in desks and chairs used by public schools.

Ms. Villar noted that the main challenge in the development of a bamboo industry is a shortage of land.

“There are about 8,500 hectares devoted to bamboo cultivation, with four economically viable species — the Kawayan Tinik, Giant Bamboo, Buho, and Bolo. According to the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), while 8,500 hectares is a significant number, the huge demand for bamboo requires more coverage,” said Ms. Villar said in a statement Sunday.

The measure requires the BIRDC to promote the establishment of bamboo nurseries, plantations, and processing facilities; and promote the commercialization and market access of the “appropriate innovative and viable” bamboo industry products.

The BIRDC is also expected to provide capacity-building initiatives for farmers, processors, designers, and other stakeholders in the bamboo industry.

“Nursery and plantation owners shall be exempt from the payment of rent for the use of public lands for commercial bamboo plantation for the first 10-years or when the plantation owner starts to harvest his/her nursery/plantation subject to existing tenurial agreement with concerned government agencies,” according to the bill.

“Plantation owners in public lands shall be exempt from the payment of forest charges imposed by national government and other fees or taxes imposed by local government units.”

It added, “Plantation owners, including nursery facilities, bamboo processing, and other related businesses shall be exempt from the payment of import duties for imported machines and equipment subject to pertinent rules and regulations.”

If signed into law, the bill directs the Office of the President through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to allocate P100 million to start-up the trust fund. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras