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Observations on bamboo farming

March 18, 2010

Agri Plain Talk


February 26, 2010, 5:26pm

Planting bamboo in the backyard or along river banks is quite different from planting a big area, say 50 hectares. That’s the confession of Edwin Veneracion who has been helping manage a 272-hectare forest plantation, 50 hectares of which are planted to bamboo, in Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.

Veneracion is a 1984 forestry graduate from UP Los Baños who helped his late father-in-law in developing the area more than a dozen years ago.

A big bamboo plantation has its own peculiar problems which many forestry professors probably have not realized and therefore have not taught the right distancing of the bamboo groves. The usual distancing being taught is 8 to 10 meters apart. That distancing in a big plantation is too close as per their experience, according to Veneracion.

After 10 years the bamboo clumps in their plantation had closed in. And the harvesters are having a hard time. Before they could harvest in the interior, they have to cut a lot of the bamboos to clear some sort of a roadway.. Hauling is also very expensive. From the interior the harvested bamboo poles have to be hauled by carabaos to the nearest road for loading on a big truck. The cutting, the hauling and trucking all involve expenses.

Perhaps, in a big plantation, the rows of the bamboo could be 20 meters apart. Distances between hills within the row could be closer. This way, there would be enough space for hauling the harvested poles to the nearest road for loading in the truck that will bring them to the market.

Edwin confesses that there are agricultural projects that could more profitable than bamboo. Just like his orchid project which gives him gross sales of more than one million pesos a month. For one, orchids are much easier to transport. They have a much shorter gestation period. In orchids, seedlings of dendrobium will flower and become marketable in eight months. On the other hand, one has to wait for three to four years before bamboo poles are harvestable.

As of now, they are selling their bamboo poles to people who also do the cutting. The buyers just pay them R30 per pole.

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