By Staff Reporter
September 3, 2019 (Ezega.com)-- Ethiopia has launched the first ever well-organized bamboo development and utilization strategy to exploit its bamboo resources, discloses an official and expert in the field.
Ashebir Wondimu, Senior Forestry Expert and Bamboo Focal Person of the Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission told Ezega.com during a relevant meeting, the strategy aims to reduce poverty by creating job opportunities, ensuring green economic development and restoring degraded lands due to climate change.
The International Bamboo and Rattan organization (INBAR) has been implementing a bamboo development program titled “Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Program” supported by the Dutch and Chinese governments in East Africa. Ethiopia is one of the beneficiaries of this program.
It is believed that Ethiopia, which has about 67 percent of bamboo cultivation potential in Africa, could have been generating hundreds of millions of dollars per annum from its bamboo forests. So far, raw bamboo is being exported to the Middle East and to other African countries such as Sudan, Ashebir said
According to the expert, Ethiopia’s rich bamboo resource with over 1.5 million hectares is poorly managed and exploited.
Bamboo grows in the highland and lowland parts of the country. There are over 15 types of bamboo plants in Ethiopia. The majority of them grow in western parts of the country.
Sub-Saharan Africa has about three million hectares of bamboo forest, which is around four percent of the continent's total bamboo forest. According to Ashebir, Ethiopia plans to increase its bamboo cover from the current 1.5 million hectares to 3.5 million in the coming few years.
Various stakeholders will partake in the government-led strategy which consists of detailed action plans to be implemented until the year 2030.
By implementing the strategy, Ethiopia will be restoring part of the 15 million hectares of degraded lands which the government promises to rehabilitate in the coming five years, Ashebir added.
There are four bamboo manufacturing industries in Ethiopia. One of them is in Assosa where a Chinese investor is eying to invest $2 billion. The remaining bamboo industries are situated in Dukem and Burayu towns and Injbara town of Amhara state.
As 90 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa use firewood or charcoal to cook, the development of an alternative resource like bamboo has become essential. As part of addressing the effects of climate change, European countries including Germany and Norway are expected to support the implementation Ethiopia’s bamboo development and utilization strategy.
"Sustainable management of the bamboo sector is extremely important to the future of the country's market, especially if we want to export the products to the European market where laws stipulate conformity to high sustainability standards," said Jayaraman Durai, a representative of INBAR said.
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