Friday, March 18, 2011

World Forests Day and Bamboo industries in Kenya

I read this entry and really thought it was an informative entry especially for those interested in forest conservation and bamboo industries.

'Short' Development of Bamboo in Kenya
By Bernard Kigomo, KEFRI

The regional development of bamboo started in Kenya but more vehemently in 1985. Kenya has had a long relationship with INBAR since its establishment in India and
now in China where it has moved recently. KEFRI for a while now has made
world collections of bamboo species and established these as trials in the
country. There are published records of what can grow and where of about 12
of the over 20 tried species. Data on growth of the various successful
bamboo species has been collected, documented, published and shared. Growing
and management of bamboo was the early occupation of bamboo development in
Kenya. Kenyan expertise has been able to assist Sudan and Ethiopia to
develop its capacity in the growing and management of bamboo.

Recently the development of bamboo has moved to the concern of processing
and use of bamboo in several front areas. A project has therefore been going
on since 5 years ago mainly between Kenya, Ethiopia and UNIDO to improve
capacity of local people in the use of bamboo in Ethiopia and Kenya. Groups
in Kinale, Olenguruone and Kakamega have been focal points of these hands on
training through this project. The first phase of this project has ended.
This project has attempted to create awareness on bamboo development at
policy levels by arranging tours in Asia/China and Ethiopia for the
management of KFS (selected Board members and 10 senior managers), KEFRI
(Senior staff and selected Board members) and Ministry (Two PSs, Minister of
MF&W)and several 5 NGO executives who were partners to this project. This
project has produced several guidelines on production, management and
processing of bamboo that it has shared with a number of outlets. Joint
training of trainers has enabled to have capacity for regional training in
bamboo growing and furniture, handicraft and basketry making. We have had
several training sessions for CBOs locally, three training sessions in Rwanda
and presently two KEFRI experts are holding a two week course in Uganda for
Sakin, and NGO, with the support of UNIDO.

Another effort through the government support has been training groups
coming from Coast, Central and western Kenya, lo0caly and at the KEFRI
workshop at Karura. Three groups in southern Nyanza have been trained in
use of bamboo in furniture making and weaving by KEFRI through the IDRC
support to Maseno University. The Southern Nyanza bamboo project of Maseno
University has aimed at introducing bamboo as alternative to tobacco and the
utilization of the planted bamboo.

The results of these efforts have started showing with several individuals
and youth groups organizing themselves to focus on products development from
bamboo. Several architectural students in the local universities are already
working on the use of bamboo in housing. The potential is great but has
been least tapped realizing the use made of bamboo in Asian countries,
especially China and India, among other oriental countries.

The government through KFS and KEFRI is already coming up with a country
bamboo strategy and the two have been agonizing on the issue of lifting the
ban on bamboo harvesting to provide means of sustainable harvesting before
the eventual flowering of the bamboo culms/stems. Bamboo is a grass and
flowers and die.