Ministry promotes bamboo farming
By Emmanuel Simpokolwe:
Natural Resources and Climate Change Minister Michael Usi has lamented the underutilisation of bamboos, saying, despite their many uses, they have not been treated as a life-saving plant in the country.
Usi said bamboo plantations can help in forest restoration and rehabilitation, besides shoring up the country’s green economy.
He said this in Lilongwe on Monday, when he opened a bamboo awareness and sensitisation workshop.
“What is needed is a people-centred communication strategy so that people, especially those in rural areas, can understand the importance of bamboo plantations and management.
“The bamboo is a fast-regenerating plant species with capacity to give enough biomass for ecological and socio-economic needs of the country. Unfortunately, with population pressure, natural strands of bamboo are being indiscriminately cut for livelihood and commercial purposes,” he said.
Usi further said there is inadequate research, inadequate data and no robust programmes to support bamboo planting and management.
“Deforestation and forest degradation are associated with energy demands through firewood and charcoal production, hence there is a need for awareness for communities to understand that they can get charcoal though bamboos,” Usi said.
The workshop was supported by the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (Inbar), an inter-governmental development organisation that promotes the sustainable development of bamboos.
Inbar Country Focal Person Robert Mzumara said for bamboo production to be effectively enhanced, there is a need for direct involvement of the Department of Forestry and the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi.
He said the bamboo has immense benefits for ecological adaptation as well as economic gains for social purposes.
“When people promote bamboos, it means they are improving their lives economically, ecologically and socially. Bamboos can be life transforming,” Mzumara said.
The meeting attracted bamboo growers, researchers, government officials and the donor community, among other stakeholders.