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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A bamboo processing firm based in this city has partnered with the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Mindanao to help with their livelihood
During the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) on Tuesday, Russel Smith, president and chief executive officer of Rizome Bamboo, said the company has so far signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with 15 IP organizations in Mindanao since 2021.
In the MOU, IP communities are tasked with growing giant bamboo species, with Rizome as the exclusive buyer of the harvested trunks.
Smith said most of their partner IP communities are located in Bukidnon.
“We went to get a Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) with these IPs, for them to decide what kind of business they would do together with Rizome,” he said.
FPIC is a specific right granted to IPs recognized in the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which aligns with their universal right to self-determination. This was adopted in the Philippines under the Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.
Smith said they are planning to plant an additional 1.5 million “bamboo stands” throughout Mindanao, which they will also buy back from farmers and growers to meet the production demands.
Rizome has been providing bamboo supplies to clients across the country since 2021. The bamboo trunks it gets from IP communities are processed to become construction materials as an alternative to wood by-products.
Russel said he supports the passage of House Bill 7941, which aims to promote the development of bamboo industry in the country. The bill was unanimously approved on the third and final reading in May this year.
Once signed into law, the country’s bamboo industry is positioned to become competitive in foreign markets, enabling it to become a major revenue and employment generator by strengthening the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council. (PNA)