Africa has abundant reserves of bamboo plants that can help the continent build a green economy and join the global $60 billion worth bamboo trade. Bamboo can also help the continent address its deforestation problem.
According to Hans Friederich, director-general of INBAR, Africa’s growth in bamboo has “great opportunity”.
“The continent has vast reserves of largely untapped bamboo that, if properly managed, could benefit rural communities and promote green economic development,” Friederich told CNN.
Bamboo is used to make watches, bikes, scaffolding, chopsticks, flooring, furniture, building and roofing materials, paper, textiles and many other items.
Apart from that the plant, which can grow almost one meter a day, is a sustainable resource and can provide an environmentally sound way to alleviate poverty, while addressing the continents deforestation problem due to increased industrialization.
Deforestation is haunting the African continent as industrial growth paves over public commons and puts more hectares into private hands.
According to the Environmental News Network, a web-based resource, Africa loses forest cover equal to the size of Switzerland every year, or approximately 41 000 square kilometres.
“Bamboo can be harnessed to reverse land degradation, slow deforestation, combat climate change through carbon sequestration, and boost rural livelihoods through the creation of jobs and income,” added Friederich.
Ethiopia lead other African nations, including Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda, in term sof bamboo forests.
Two thirds of bamboo forest is found in the horn of Africa nation where the industry has grown from making toothpicks to flooring and curtains.
In Ghana, the plant is becoming popular in making locally manufactured bicycles.
Despite it clear benefit and huge potential, many African countries still do not have “Practical policies at the local, national and regional level,” Friederich said.
In some ways, the challenge in Africa is not to introduce bamboo, but to persuade people and governments that it has commercial uses.
“We’ve taken policymakers from Africa to China and India where bamboo used in everyday life — and there’s still very poor adoption,” Dr. Chin Ong, a retired professor of environmental science at the University of Nottingham in England, who was formerly a senior scientist at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, told The New York times.
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