By Karen Bermejo
For its multifarious use, bamboo, a perennial, woody-stemmed grass, which abundantly flourishes in Maasin, Iloilo, puts a new color to gold.
Ma. Luzviminda Casio, the municipal agriculturist of Maasin said that “green is gold” because it is their greening bamboo industry that brings gold or income to the town.
Maasin has long been supplying bamboo products such as furniture, crafts, scaffolding, roofing, flooring and walls in different areas in the country and even in the international market.
Municipal Agriculturist Ma. Luzviminda Casio (fourth from right) with the members of Maasin Kawayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative.
But apart from its economic purpose, bamboo protects the environment and cleanses the air we breathe.
“Bamboo is a good carbon sequester,” Casio said adding that it can sequester up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare since it releases 35 percent more oxygen compared to trees.
For its wide roots, it is also considered as a reforestation specie for its effectiveness in preventing soil erosion.
Also, with our deteriorating forestland, Casio shared that bamboo serves as the best substitute for trees since it produces more biomass than trees. Bamboo grows faster compared to trees so more raw materials are produced for use.
Recognizing the value of bamboo for the town, a municipal ordinance prohibits anyone to harvest bamboo shoots to assure the continuous growth of the plant.
Maasin is also home to the first and only bamboo charcoal company in the country, which is seen to end Kaingin farming in the province.
CAPACITATING THE COMMUNITY
Meanwhile, Casio also said that someone could earn up to P700 from a single bamboo pole that costs P40.
So to capacitate the community, the Maasin Kawayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative was formed.
It is composed of some 200 members from the various villages of the town that work together to produce bamboo products.
To be at par with international market, the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry are helping the cooperative with their trainings and product development.
Bamboo candle holders.
Their products are currently displayed at the Maasin Bamboo Gallery at the town’s gymnasium.*