By ANTONIO G. PAPA, Ph.D.
Beema bamboos are being planted to various areas in Marinduque, especially at the intoxicated lands in the town of Buenavista which was abandoned by a mining company due to toxic sequestration.
Carbon Neutral Garden and Oxygen Park
Dr. Merian P. Catajay-Mani, former president of the Marinduque State College (MSC) forged a Memorandum of Agreement between MSC and 7Bamboo Farm represented by Ms. Eva L. Celestino, Farm Manager held in Bgy. Yook, Buenavista, Marinduque.
The activity was part of the establishment of Carbon Neutral Garden and Oxygen Park in the 10-hectare land of 7Bamboo Farm.
After the MOA signing a ceremonial Beema bamboo planting was done by Dr. Mani; Dr. Diosdado P. Zulueta, former MSC’s Vice President for Administration and Finance (now MSC president); and Ms. Celestino.
Other MSC officials; representatives from the National Government agencies, namely: Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); and other LGU officials participated in the activity.
The chairmen of all barangays of the Municipality of Buenavista were present and signified their willingness to co-own the project which will provide better ecological balance to the place and livelihood opportunities to the community dwellers.
With the aforementioned many uses of Beema bamboo, local government units (LGUs) that encounter land degradation and want to have a place for health enhancement as well as create job opportunities are encouraged to plant Beema bamboo, the “fastest growing grass and the most important non-timber commodity in the forest ecosystem of the world”, says Dr. Rafael Guerrero III.
(Read: The many uses of Beema bamboo)
Climatic and cultural requirements
The Growmore Biotech, Limited espoused the following for Beema bamboo production, particularly its climatic and cultural requirements (Barathi, undated).
Climate. Beema bamboo can be grown in a wide range of climatic conditions ranging from tropical to temperate. But it economically performs best in tropical and sub-tropical areas. It requires well distributed rainfall, with the shortfall being made up through irrigation. Although Beema bamboo is hardy, adaptable and perennial, they are intolerant to prolonged water stagnated conditions in the field during its first year of growth.
Land preparation. The land should be plowed as thoroughly and deeply as possible. Provide better drainage system. Water requirement of Beema bamboo is similar to sugarcane for maximum yield.
Soil. Beema bamboo yield best in deep, well-drained, and fertile soils. They generally prefer neutral to slightly acid soils for better growth. Even though it can perform well in alkaline conditions with some special soil alteration. Red and red loamy soils are more preferable, however bamboo can be grown in a range of soil from black cotton soil to degraded soil.
Pits. Pit size of 2 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet are to be excavated or continuous trench along the row. The excavated top soil is filled at the bottom of the pit and top of the pit is filled with major nutrients and farmyard manure. The recommended spacing is 3 meters x 1.2 meters. In such a way, 2,500 Beema bamboo plants can be planted per hectare.
Season and planting. The right time for Beema bamboo planting is usually as soon as the monsoon starts, under rainy conditions. In the irrigated field, Beema bamboo can be cultivated throughout the year except during peak summer. The tissue cultured Beema bamboo plantlets are pre-hardened to get established and develop its roots to withstand field stress.
Planting method. In the pit, mix the top soil with 2 baskets of farmyard manure and 500 grams of neem-cake. Based on the soil test, inorganic fertilizers are added. Carefully cut open the polyethylene bag having the bamboo plants using sharp blade, to ensure the root-ball does not break. Place the plant vertically in the pit, ensure that the entire soil contained in the polyethylene bag is placed along with plants and in such a way the collar of the plant is in line with soil Suffix.
Irrigation. Provide irrigation immediately after planting with 10 to 15 liters of water per plant. Irrigation after planting depends on the soil condition and prevailing climatic condition.
In the Philippines, a tropical country, the experiences in the provinces of Romblon and Marinduque demonstrated that Beema bamboo is suited for local cultivation.
Tips for handicraft makers
So that bamboo products like furniture, handicrafts and huts (kubo) will not be attacked by insects or pests, treat the newly harvested bamboo poles with insecticides or pesticides.
Newly cut bamboo poles can still absorb the chemicals, so, place the poles standing in a drum half-full of the solution –– mixture of fresh water and insecticide and/or pesticide, and let the poles stay there for three to five days or until the solution has been absorbed up to the topmost portion of the poles.
However, it is advised that the bamboo product makers must use personal protective equipment (PPE) while processing the treated bamboo poles.