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Sorsogon exec hails bamboo as a cash crop

CASTILLA, Sorsogon—Vice Gov. Renato Laurinaria of Sorsogon is urging farmers and landowners in the province to grow bamboo because of its potential as a cash crop.

Its versatile qualities make bamboo not only a material for chopstick-making, poles, furniture, handicrafts, fishing gears and housing, among others, but mainly a source  vegetable that would generate good income for growers due to its demand from both the domestic and international market, the vice governor said on Monday.

Research and studies show that bamboo shoots contain 18 amino acids and less carbohydrates, crude fat and crude fiber which make it an ideal vegetable for health-conscious people, Laurinaria said.

The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau has reported that bamboo’s main nutritive values seem to be associated with hematopoiesis, or the regeneration of high-energy containing compounds and improvement of protein metabolism.

“I have initiated a bamboo-planting program under our community-based Resource Management Project along riverbanks and on hilly terrains here during my nine-year term as mayor of this town.  That was before I was elected provincial vice governor. I have since been pushing for a province-wide initiative,” he said.

Other farmers in the locality have planted bamboo around their farms as fence or as windbreak that do not easily die or get damaged by typhoons, drought and even by fire.

The Castilla plantation is now a source of bamboo shoots that command a good price in the local market. Considering that grated and boiled shoots sell at around P25 per kilo, Laurinaria said, the many shoots weighing over a kilo each that are harvested from a clump is already a good source of income.

Compared with other agricultural crops that are planted every year or even twice a year, bamboo is planted only once and dies only when it has flowered after 30 years, making it more advantageous for farmers.

There are no problems in planting materials because farmers can start with native varieties, locally called botong, kawayan, oras and marurugue, all source of edible shoots.

“Since our climate is tropical, the Philippines had become bamboo’s natural home as it can be grown even near the residential areas and on any type of soil,” Laurinaria said.

Citing a publication of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), he said planting bamboo for shoot production entails digging a hole of 2x 2×1 meter in dimension, which must be filled with soil and composts.

Planting materials either in the form of cuttings or prerooted cuttings preferably, should come from one-year-old culms rather than from older ones, although they could be used.

The cuttings with one whole internode and two nodes are the best. Internodes which are not hollow should not be used. The recommended distance of planting is 8×6 meters, he said.

The PCARRD publication, Laurinaria said, also reported the two ways of planting cuttings, which are not prerooted, prior to setting them in the field. These are the horizontal and the vertical systems.

For the horizontal, the cuttings are laid horizontally in the hole with the eyes at the sides then covered with two-thirds layer of soil.

The vertical system is done by burying the lower node 5 centimeters below the surface of the node with the soil covering and reaching the upper half of the next internode.


Written by Danny O. Calleja / Correspondent   
Friday, 12 March 2010 19:36
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