Bamboo caretakers earn extra income in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY – The province of Ilocos Norte is gearing up to revive its local bamboo industry by designating bamboo caretakers and letting them earn while doing so.
In an interview on Friday, provincial agriculturist Norma Lagmay said they have identified the city of Batac and the towns of Paoay, Currimao, and Sarrat, where bamboo thrives naturally, as pilot areas for the project.
The project, funded under the continuing “cash for work” program of the provincial government, involves individuals who are tasked to take care of at least 10 bamboo clumps near his/her residence for a salary of PHP250 per day.
Aside from that, the beneficiaries will also be trained to establish their bamboo nursery for mass production.
“This gives them a sustainable income as the provincial government will buy whatever saplings they may produce to be planted in various parts of the province, particularly in landslide-prone areas or near river banks to prevent soil erosion,” Lagmay said.
Bamboo is often taken for granted by farmers in the province despite its many uses.
This year, however, Ilocos Norte is geared towards resuscitating its bamboo industry by empowering local communities to take good care of their existing bamboo poles.
The provincial government partnered with the Mariano Marcos State University, which has expertise in bamboo propagation and processing, to train more farmers to rehabilitate their bamboo plantations while growing new species to boost their productivity.
On September 9, the new program dubbed “Kakawayanak Aywanak” (Taking care of my bamboo) was launched in Barangay Camandingan, Batac City to rehabilitate the bamboo industry as it aims to boost livelihood and mitigate the impact of climate change.
Prof. Charlie Batin, a bamboo production expert at the Mariano Marcos State University, said farmers could bring back the healthy condition of their old bamboo clumps by cleaning and properly applying fertilizer on them.
Batin said the unproductive bamboo stands could be made productive again should farmers take good care of their old bamboo clumps.
“Bamboo is environment-friendly. It grows fast even in marginal soils and produces (a) high amount of biomass,” he said.
As a reforestation species, it is very useful against soil erosion and it could also generate tremendous income for bamboo growers and traders, he added. (PNA

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