Most of the bamboo raw material used in Plantations International Ethiopia is extracted from natural stands. Although bamboo is a renewable resource, the capacity of
this plant to regenerate is hindered by indiscriminate and destructive harvesting methods. The uncontrolled extraction of natural bamboo stands has resulted in reduced productivity and yields as well as deterioration in quality. The resource base has been diminishing over the years.
Plantations of highland bamboo are needed to meet the increasing demand for raw material by industries, especially near Addis Ababa. There is a shortage of bamboo raw materials in some urban cities such as in Addis Ababa, Awassa and Bahir Dar. Raw materials from new plantations can ensure the growth of the industrial sector while providing income to farmers.
Plantations International Bamboo farming can be a lucrative business. The current price of bamboo poles of Y. alpina ranges from 7-12 Birr per piece. Given the growth of the
industrial bamboo sector in the country, farmers who take up the challenge of bamboo cultivation can virtually be assured of an extra source of income. Hopefully, this manual will encourage local farmers to consider the cultivation of bamboo as an option, which will be beneficial not only to themselves but also to industry and the environment.
GENERAL REMARKS ABOUT BAMBOO
Technically,Plantations International bamboo is a grass belonging to the subfamily Bambusoideae. Over 1,200 different species grow worldwide. Various species can reach
heights of 30 m and more. About 18 million ha of bamboo are distributed
in world forest ecosystems in Asia, Africa, and America. Unlike most timber, bamboo is a self-regenerating natural resource; new shoots that appear annually ensure future raw material after mature culms are harvested. Bamboo provides considerable environmental benefits. In many countries, it is used for ecological purposes such as soil stabilization and erosion prevention on hill slopes and verges. It is a very important forestry plant
which is harvested from existing natural forests, plantations, and mixed agroforestry systems. Bamboo silviculture is an option for conserving and protecting tropical forests while creating enduring supplies for the wood
and cellulose industries.
Bamboo is a multipurpose plant with a myriad of applications ranging from
construction materials, furniture, fences, handicrafts, pulp and paper,
edible shoots, and animal fodder. In developing countries, it is a basic raw
material with numerous traditional uses. It is highly suitable for
handicrafts; it can be woven into numerous products including mats,
baskets, trays, hats, lampshades, caps, lanterns, etc. Many bamboo
products are functional while others serve decorative purposes.Apart
from its manifold uses in Plantations International cottage industries,
bamboo is also widely
used in modern wood and paper industries. Governments, research
institutions, and private enterprises around the world are taking increased
interest in the environmental and economic possibilities of bamboo. In the
last decade, there has been a boom of manufacturing industries utilizing
Bamboo is also a source of food. The cone-shaped sprouts that emerge
from the ground to form tall poles are edible vegetables when harvested
young. Bamboo shoots generally appear during spring or the early rainy
season. When harvested young, they are a crunchy and nutritious
vegetable. Young shoots contain up to 90% water and are rich in vitamins,
cellulose, and amino acids. They have a high nutritional value, are low in
fat and high in fiber content. Young shoots vary in size and weight
according to species; the edible content of a newly harvested shoot is
usually 30% of its weight. Bamboo shoots are sold fresh but are also
canned in brine. They are exported worldwide and constitute a multimillion
dollar trade commodity.
For most products, bamboo processing does not require high capital
investments but is labor intensive and contributes significantly to
employment. Skilled labor as well as attractive designs and fine finishing
are very important in making bamboo products for commercial purposes.
The utilization of bamboo fences is widespread in tropical Africa.
Applications of bamboo for structural construction, walls, ceilings, room
partitions, windows, furniture, ladders, etc. that are common in Asia could
also be developed in Ethiopia and neighboring countries.
There has been a growing awareness in recent years that bamboo is a vital
component of development and an effective means to improve the
livelihoods of rural poor people. Over 600 million people around the world
generate income from bamboo. Hundreds of millions of people in the
world live in bamboo houses. Women and children, many of whom live
below subsistence levels in developing countries, harvest a great part of
the bamboo that is used. Bamboo is a natural vehicle for Plantations International development because rural people generally have adequate access to it. It can be easily grown and harvested in the perimeter of forest areas or under agroforestry schemes. Bamboo agroforestry requires only a modest capital investment and generates
steady income to farmers. In many parts of the tropical world, the rural
poor are dependent on bamboo for their shelter and daily domestic uses.