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CS Keriako Tobiko to officiate World Bamboo Day in Busia

COUNTIES
By Sigomba Ramadhan Omar | September 17th 2019
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko planting a tree. (Photo Courtesy)

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko is expected to preside over the 10th World Bamboo Day at Busia Agricultural Training Center on Wednesday.  

The World Bamboo Day is set aside to increase awareness of the significance of Bamboo plants globally whose utilisation has not been sustainable due to exploitation.

“CS Keriako Tobiko will tomorrow officiate the 10th World Bamboo Day at Busia Agricultural Training Centre {ATC} grounds in Busia County. The theme for the celebration is "Harnessing Bamboo Potential for Climate Resilient Communities & Green Businesses," twitted the Ministry of Environment.

Inception

World Bamboo day was incepted on 18th September 2009 in Bangkok, by the Thai Royal Forest Department during the 8th World Bamboo Congress. 

The inception aimed at increasing the awareness of bamboo globally. 

Bamboo farming has popular in China and the US where it is mostly grown for medicinal, ornamental purposes and feeding of Panda.

Bamboo farming in Kenya

Bamboo farming is taking place in various parts of Kenyan with potential demand from construction and textile companies, landscapers and beer manufacturers. 

The plant is mostly grown in the Aberdares Range, Mau forest, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon, and Cherangany Hills. It is also grown on a small scale in Migori, Vihiga, Busia, Homa Bay, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kirinyaga, Kitui, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties.

Farming of bamboo as an industrial crop and an alternative to traditional timber has risen sharply in Kenya, following a global trend.

Uses

Bamboo has multiple uses. It is a raw material for making clothes, accessories, furniture, diapers, toys, durable utensils, beer, and musical instruments.

The tall fast-growing woody plants can be used as a control measure for soil erosion, protecting water catchments, mitigating climate change, and adaptation.

Bamboo can also be used to feed people and animals with communities living around Mount Elgon eat bamboo shoots as a delicacy.

Commonly, bamboo is used for construction and medicinal purposes. The black bamboo shoot provides ingredients that help to treat kidney diseases. Its roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal diseases and cancer and according to reports, water from the culm (the side branches) is used to treat diseases of the bone effectively.

Lackluster 

According to the Kenya Forestry Research Institute Kefri, the land area under the crop had shrunk from 300,000 hectares initially to about 133,273 hectares today hence the obscure productivity of the plant in Kenya. 

Data from five countries in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania) indicate a combined bamboo coverage of 2.8 million hectares, representing 4.1 percent of the forest area in the countries.

Markets for Bamboo products are largely underdeveloped due to the lack of mature domestic markets for products, as well as lack of consumer awareness and confidence.

Bamboo Policy 2019

With bamboo farming seemingly promising, Kenya developed a new policy aimed at harnessing the crop.

The goal of the “Bamboo Policy 2019” is to develop a vibrant bamboo industry benefiting the present and future generations through sustainable management, enabling commercialisation and value-addition.

The policy also aims at producing quality planting material and increase bamboo farming in government plantations, public spaces or private land. 

According to the policy, the verbal proclamation “banning” harvesting of Bamboo from natural forests that was issued by former President Daniel Arap Moi resulted in non-availability of Bamboo resources for value addition and processing, and contributed to under-development of the Bamboo sector in Kenya.

The ban was intended to protect the Bamboo resources from overexploitation

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