STATE-RUN Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has committed P1.2 billion to help jumpstart the Mindanao bamboo industry development program, which is intended to protect watersheds and provide livelihood to farmers and remote communities.

Funding from the DBP Forest Program will help set up a processing facility in each of the eight initial bamboo cluster sites located in major river basins, according to Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, chairman of Mindanao Development Authority (MiNDA), which organized the Mindanao Bamboo Summit on Jan. 19 in Cagayan de Oro City.

DBP President Emmanuel G. Herbosa was among the signatories to the Pledge of Commitment for the bamboo program signed during the event.

Among the other signatories were Bukidnon Giant Bamboo Resources Corp. Chairman Roderico R. Bioco, business chamber representatives, and Mr. Piñol.

Each of the pilot bamboo areas is targeted to cover at least 1,000 hectares.

The program aims to have a million hectares of bamboo sites over the next 10 years, with complementary infrastructure such as roads and processing facilities as well as a marketing program for various bamboo products.

The Mindanao Bamboo industry Council, established during the summit, will oversee the program. It is composed of representatives from local governments and the private sector.

The resolution creating the council estimates a global bamboo market of about $99 billion by 2026, with Europe, the US and Japan as the biggest buyers of bamboo and shoots.

The bamboo program is part of MinDA’s Green Mindanao Project, which also promotes the development of high-value fruit farms and harvestable tree species across the southern mainland, particularly in denuded mountain areas.

“We cannot continue to exploit our forests and natural resources without an aggressive effort to replenish, reinvigorate and heal the ecological and environmental wounds,” Mr. Piñol said in a statement. — Marifi S. Jara