GIANT BAMBOO PROJECT TO BENEFIT MANOBO TRIBE IN AGUSAN DEL SUR
SOME 3,000 MEMBERS of the Manobo tribe in the highland villages of the municipalities of Rosario and Bunawan in Agusan del Sur are expected to benefit from the propagation of giant bamboo in their area.
This is just part of the various livelihood opportunities being provided by the Philsaga Mining Corporation (PSMC) for the indigenous people under its social development programs in the province of Agusan del Sur.
The giant bamboo ( Dendrocalamus asper) was specifically chosen because it is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, with a reported average growth of 3 to 10 centimeters per day. It can even grow to as much as 100 centimeters in about 24 hours, depending, of course, on the local soil and climate conditions.
Aside from being a fast grower, one- to two-year-old giant bamboo plants are already available for the manufacture of handicrafts, which require pliable bamboo splits; thus, livelihood opportunities could start early for the members of the Manobo tribe.
For the implementation of the project, the members of the Manobo tribe were tapped to plant more than 3,500 seedlings of giant bamboo in an initial area of six hectares last October.
During the initial four years, the giant bamboo can be seen as a complementary crop that could fill a target market, rather than a cash crop. But after this initial stage and beyond, profitable sustainable yields may be attainable without additional expenses for replanting.
Eventually, it is expected to become a primary yearly cash crop for the members of the Manobo tribe. This is expected to inspire the 200 sectoral leaders of the Manobo tribe to initiate different projects involving the use of the giant bamboo as raw material.
The project, which was said to be the first-ever in Mindanao, was conceptualized in line with the objective of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to provide livelihood opportunities for the local residents of the two municipalities, aside from protecting the environment.
The giant bamboo plants are also expected to enhance the government’s environment protection program, with benefits like stabilizing the soil in surrounding areas and preventing the occurrence of landslides, in addition to promoting carbon capture capability. The giant bamboo, which releases more oxygen than trees, will also help stabilize riverbanks, regulate watersheds, protect against soil erosion, and recycle water nutrients.
Ready-to-plant giant bamboo seedlings at the nursery of Philsaga in Agusan del Sur.