Rejuvenate old bamboo clumps for bigger income



Instead of establishing new bamboo stands, farmers can bring back the healthy condition of their old bamboo clumps through cleaning and fertilizer application, thus, resulting in quicker return of investment.


This is the assurance given by Prof. Charlie Batin, bamboo production expert from the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) to farmers who own unproductive bamboo stands.


What’s more? The increased productivity of old bamboo clumps offers a quicker means of increasing the supply of bamboo, which is now slowly decreasing due to high demand.  Increased productivity of the bamboo clumps would also result in increased income for their owners.


Batin, who lectured on how to properly take care of old bamboo clumps in a two-day lecture-training activity held at the MMSU Function Hall on Thursday until Friday (November 19-20), said one reason why the bamboo industry in the Ilocos region is fast depleting is the lack of knowledge and information on how to rejuvenate the old bamboo stands to produce new shoots.


The training was attended by 22 farmers from the towns of Sarrat, Paoay, Currimao, and the City of Batac in Ilocos Norte who own old bamboo clumps. They were taught on the updated and science-based knowledge and technologies on how to grow bamboo and rejuvenate the existing clumps. 


The activity was led by the MMSU Extension Directorate, in partnership with the Agricultural Training Institute - Region 1, and the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte – Office of Provincial Agriculturist. It is in support to the Ilokano bamboo growers through the Ilocos Norte Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (INAFES) project.


Records show that as early as 1992, it was already observed that in the Ilocos region alone the existing bamboo stands could only satisfy 37 percent of the total demand for bamboo culms.  


This situation is brought about by the increasing demand for culms, the decreasing yield of bamboo stands due to indiscriminate cutting and lack of maintenance, and the absence of systematic and deliberate effort to replenish the resource.


Batin said that any bamboo clump owner can easily adopt the rejuvenation and fertilization technology that he and other forestry experts are recommending, because it is simple and easy to apply.


Here’s how:  At the onset of the rainy season, remove all over mature and defective culms.  Likewise, remove all the branches or spines up to two meters above the ground.  Dig a trench, five centimeters deep, around the clump and then apply the fertilizer.  Then, cover the fertilizer as well as the exposed rhizomes with soil.  


A brochure published by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) states that although bamboo may be able to grow and develop even without being fertilized if planted on good location, it is necessary to apply fertilizer since the areas most likely available for bamboo production are less fertile and unproductive.  


Batin also observed that the application of 2 kilograms of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) on each kawayan tinik clump is enough to produce bigger tillers and more culms.  


He observed that the new shoots in the cleaned clumps had higher survival rate than those in the unclean clumps, resulting in the production of more new culms.  It is apparent that application of higher level of complete fertilizer markedly increased the development of new culms. Cleaning the old clumps also prevented rats from feeding on the new shoots.


At four months after fertilization, the diameter of new culms in the cleaned clumps already reached 8.82 centimeters, while those in the unfertilized clumps had only 7.99 centimeters.


Experts from the Forestry Department at the MMSU College of Agriculture, Food and Sustainable Development (CAFSD) assert that by cleaning old bamboo clumps plus the application of 2 kilograms complete fertilizer per clump, the farmer gets an income of about P5.00 for every peso he invests. (StratCom)