By Ike Señeres

I bet you have never thought that there is an indirect correlation between activated charcoals and water tables, but indeed there is, and allow me to tell you how and why. Before doing that however, I would dare to say that perhaps you have never thought that the local supply of activated carbons could be increased by the millions of tons, and the levels of water tables could be increased by the hundreds of millimetres. How and why? The simple answer is to plant bamboo grasses (yes, bamboos are classified as grasses and not as trees). Because of their relative size in relation to ordinary grass however, it would be more accurate to refer to them as bamboo poles (yes, you can plant and grow bamboo poles). But why plant bamboos and not the other grasses (or other trees, in a manner of speaking)? The answer my friend lies in the long value chain that includes not just food (yes, bamboo is a source of food), but also water. And not only water for today’s needs, but water forever and ever.

Going back to basics and going direct to the point, the roots of bamboos absorb water and are therefore able to collect water that eventually adds to the water table. Additionally however, the roots of bamboos and their poles could be burned into ordinary charcoals and eventually processed into activated charcoal. True enough, any wood could also be burned into ordinary charcoal and then processed into activated charcoal, but the conversion of bamboo materials to activated charcoal has a higher rate, and the resulting quality is better. However, that is really not the primary reason for choosing bamboo over wood. The real reason is that it is easier to monitor the transport of bamboo charcoal from the mountains compared to wood charcoal, because cutting bamboos is not illegal, whereas cutting trees is. Besides, there should really be a system for allowing the transport of certified planted bamboo products and by-products.

In recent memory, we have already experienced shortages of food and water. As it is now, many of the food items that we used to produce are now being imported. These are signs that we should already recognize as wake up calls, and we should no longer ignore the signs or even pretend that these threats to our national security will not happen or if these would happen, these are not going to happen soon. Perhaps it is in our culture to act only on the eleventh hour, but we should change that culture now if we would want our people to survive, forever and ever. Many times we would rather rely on the national government to do things for us, but we should change that kind of reliance now, and become more independent, more self-supporting and more self-sustaining at the barangay level.

Bamboos give water, but bamboos also take water. Bamboo needs water to grow, but that should not be a problem if the water table is already high. This is not a chicken and the egg problem either, because existing sources could provide water to initial planting projects. The point is to start somewhere, and the best thing to do is to start now. As part of the “Year of the Youth 2019” celebration, Fr. Ben Beltran is calling on the youth to participate in the “Billion Bamboo Challenge 2030”, codenamed “Bamboohay”, apparently alluding to the fact that bamboo gives life, and bamboo creates livelihood. CCS Group, a Singaporean company with offices in the Philippines has donated a mobile app to Fr. Ben, so that the youth could donate and plant seedlings to help combat climate change. CCS Founder and Chairman Michael Ong turned over the donation on behalf of his company.

For feedback email iseneres@yahoo.com

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