The Philippines is the fifth largest bamboo exporter in the world, tailing
Vietnam. The three bamboo exporters are China, EU and Indonesia.
The country’s bamboo-based furniture industry has a growth rate of 15 percent per year, with export revenues amounting to USD 3.2 million per year. The bamboo-based handicraft industry has a growth rate of 7 percent with export revenues of 8 billion dollars per year.
The Philippine Bamboo Foundation reported that up to 52,000 hectares of land in the country is planted to bamboo but this could not meet the market demand. As of 2010, the market needs 575,000 handicraft poles and 3.5 million furniture poles. Majority or 40 percent of the country’s bamboo production is used by the furniture and handicraft sector. Housing and construction uses 25 percent, vegetables and fruit uses 10 percent and the rest for other uses.
There are more or less 1,500 uses for bamboo. It is a good building material as some species can withstand 52,000 pounds per square inch (psi) before it breaks, compared to walnut wood with only 20,000 psi and steel which is stronger at 60,000 psi. It can prevent soil erosion and can be made into rafts, for biomass production, textiles, paper, and chemical products. Bamboo waste can also be converted into charcoal which is in demand in Europe.
The return on investment on bamboo is also a lot faster since it can be frequently harvested, making it an attractive and sustainable community project even for small farmers.