KEPONG: The bamboo industry possesses immense potential to be developed and used as an alternative timber source, says Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
The Deputy Prime Minister said bamboo was an important natural resource, and Malaysia was home to approximately 70 bamboo species, with 45 being local species growing in Malaysian forests.
“In the peninsula alone, bamboo encompasses some 229,122.57 hectares.
“Although its export value is not big when compared to other timber products, bamboo has the potential to be developed and used as an alternative source for various applications,” he said when officiating the World Bamboo Day Malaysia 2023 at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) auditorium on Thursday (Sept 21).
The Plantation and Commodities Minister said the production of highly marketable bamboo products should also be prioritised.
“This could be done through developing the latest technology and innovations.
“It has to include all layers, such as entrepreneurs, professionals, researchers, policymakers and other related stakeholders,” he said.
Fadillah said bamboo product exports raked in some RM14.46mil in 2022.
This marked a 66.1% increase compared to the previous year, which raked in RM8.7mil.
He added that some 577 industry players were actively involved through sectors such as furniture, construction, textiles, plantations, food, coal and handicrafts.
“To spur the national bamboo industry, a more effective and holistic approach must be taken to create a conducive environment.
“This allows downstream industries to produce more valuable bamboo products,” he said.
He also urged all direct stakeholders to take proactive measures in ensuring improvements in the bamboo industry, encompassing the downstream and upstream levels, up to the finished products.
Fadillah also noted how the ministry, through the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB), took various measures to improve the national bamboo industry.
This includes the building of bamboo plantations in Hulu Terengganu, which comprises 15 hectares of land and the bamboo community farming programme, which was approved under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
FRIM director-general Ismail Parlan said under the 12th Malaysia Plan, FRIM had conducted research on bamboo as a resource for the production of furniture, biofuel, construction, as well as ecotourism products.
He said the agency also worked closely with various agencies in both the private and public sectors, resulting in the success of various technology-sharing initiatives.
FRIM, Ismail said, also conducted extensive bamboo research since the 1980s, encompassing various aspects such as taxonomy and planting techniques.
He added that research efforts focusing on bamboo plantations and produce also emphasised 13 species that possessed significant commercial value.
“The main reason for this research is to encourage the growth of the bamboo industry and bring maximum economic benefits to the community,” he said during his speech.
His speech was read out by FRIM deputy director-general (research) Norwati Muhamad.
Also present at the event were Plantation and Commodities Ministry deputy secretary-general (Strategic Planning and Management) Abdul Hadi Omar, Ministry undersecretary Wan Ahmad Asmady Wan Md Din, MTIB chairman Datuk Larry Sng, MTIB director-general Mohd Nor Zamri Mat Amin and Malaysia Timber Council chairman Zainal Abidin Abdullah.