Good to be back.
Well, I can think of a host of reasons, and two easily stand out prominently. I might be wrong but surely it could be food for thought.
First, a bureaucratic one. By relegating bamboo early on as a "minor" forest product along with rattan, it's importance also was relegated to the backburner of our economic activities. This may not be the intention of the people who did the characterization or the "labeling", if you like. But, the labeling as I call it did an unforeseen negative connotation albeit unintentional (if it was unintentional). To be fair, for sure bamboo is secondary to wood resources when we still have plenty of forest. However, if the people who did the categorizing did not label it as such or otherwise label bamboo as an important non-wood resource instead, which is more approximating of the bamboo, we will not have the problems you are encountering now. But the damage has been done and it would take an effort to undo it as it stands now.
Sometimes perception matters as it did in this one. How can one sell a product if it is labeled "minor"? From the onset, the product is doomed.
Second, bamboo is so ubiquitous or so ordinary that we don't see or fail to see its many virtues. Yes, bamboo is so steeped in our culture and history (and that of Asia as a whole). Talk about "Si Malakas at Si Maganda" and bamboo always comes to mind. Or "Lawiswis ng Kawayan" and the mere thought will transport us to an idyll setting in a farm. Walk a few steps in rural areas and you will be met by the graceful swaying of clumps of bamboos. Bamboo is always there. It is everywhere.
In my youth as I remeber now, we always play with toys fashioned out of bamboo. Kites, in the summertime or "sumpit" as a water gun and "sumpak" as a more powerful version of the toy spewing seeds of duhat (after eating the sweet and sour flesh, of course) during our makeshift wargames.
So, why talk about bamboo? Or why introduce people to bamboo when it is always there? This seeming ubiquitousness contributes much to bamboo's misunderstanding and neglect.
My take on how we will be able to inform (or redirect attention) especially the farmers about the results of the R&D's your institution have done is to remove the "minor" label and categorize its importance as that of wood or wood products. And then let's see what it will do.
Another as a counterbalance to its "ubiquitousness" is for more agressive educational campaign. How to do it? Well, you can start by establishing bambuseta in strategic locations around the country. This may sound expensive but there are many lending institutions local and foreign giving soft loans in furthering livelihood and environment protection; NGO's that may provide assistance; wealthy individuals or corporations given convincing explanation and feasibility of the project, may take up the cause- and the cost of establishing one.
There is only one bambusetum in the Philippines located in Baguio City. There ought to be more. Bambusetum offers a first hand and very personal appreciation of the bamboo in a planned environment. With many species and varieties in one set up, one can marvel at bamboo's beauty as explained in a natural setting. You can smell it. You can hear it squeaking (to some it is music). And most of all it is fun especially with children who are the more impressionable.
On extension. It should be targeted. What do I mean by that? Select influential personalities, "natural" leaders in the communities (not necessarily the elected ones, but do not exclude them) who can be persuaded to promote bamboo information drive in their respective community. Or the NGO's themselves could be a link to the promotion of bamboo as a sustainable source of livelihood. Empower people to take a handle on the affairs of their community and it will give a lasting impression and appreciation as well.
Also, encourage those people already in the bamboo trade or business to promote bamboo in their respective area of business (plantations, manufacturing, furniture-making, and others) by opening their plantations or firms to guided educational tours, if not for free, for a minimum fee to offset cost of the tour. It could also be a source of additional income to them if a proper tour fee is required and agreed upon.
Extension workers should also be conscious of the vital role they
play in promoting bamboo as an important economic resource. They may receive low pay in doing so, as is also true of many government employees, but they should not dispense poor dissemination of knowledge just because of poor pay. They must do their job as required of them. Otherwise, they should look for another job to let more conscientious extension workers to take their place and do the extension work properly.
As for me, I am not into bamboo business (as in profit)... not yet, not at the moment. Call me a bamboo enthusiast or a hobbyist, if you will. And there is an interesting story behind it (if not corny, anyway). I have earmarked a 5 hectare property for a bamboo farm both for pole and shoot production, that's why my very first post is a query on sources of bamboo planting materials. I will expand as I see fit. I am intending also to set up a small bambusetum which I will open to some public tours in the future. To that end I am collecting different species and has already planted some.
I have a degree in Agriculture, with other "extra" degrees in Electronics and Business. A few units of MBA which unfortunately I did not finish due to more pressing concerns. I used to teach flying in the PAF Flying School for a time and then moved on to commercial flying, first with PAL and currently outside the country, after I resigned my commission in the AFP. I engage myself in actual and "virtual" farming as an overall interest in everything that grows. I also try to help people who want to engage in farming but do not have the education or training as part of that very satisfying avocation called farming. I keep abreast of new and innovative way of farming (and of doing things as a whole) that's why you will find me here in this forum. For me interacting is both a learning and sharing experience.
I hope this lengthy missive may satisfy some of the "missing link" you find frustrating in your job. I hope too that it did not "muddle" it some more.
How about you, if you don't mind? Are you with FPRDI? Just curious...
More power and best regards,