Bamboo and rattan: protecting the environment and bringing income to rural communities


As the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) searches for new revolutionary ways to raise productivity while protecting the environment, bamboo and rattan offer fast and effective solutions for countries across the Global South.

Bamboo and rattan offer a world of innovative approaches and useful new technical solutions to countries and rural communities that have these resources – and potentially to other locations. Many applications are being discussed and presented in agricultural research and rural development circles worldwide – but they are not yet ready for release and scaling-up.

At the GFAR Constituent Assembly, INBAR is talking about how bamboo and rattan can bring new livelihood benefits to rural communities and the ‘agricultural livelihood systems’ that support them. Rural development and agricultural research professionals can include bamboo and rattan in their strategies, using a number of applications that have the potential to improve food security.

While more research is needed before these interventions can be applied at large scale, the benefits of bamboo for innovative uses in farming communities are being piloted and demonstrated today. The CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) are looking for innovations to test and scale-up. Bamboo, for one, is a resource that can add real value.

Here are a few examples of its ‘game-changing’ potential:

Replacing tobacco cash crops with bamboo: Bamboo provides an alternative cash crop for tobacco farmers who are facing potential loss of earnings due to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco control – generating a range of new farming enterprises.

Cleaning wastewater for rural income: Reallocating wastewater irrigation to bamboo production will open new income streams from products and other uses – and avoid some of the health and environmental risks associated with using wastewater for vegetable and crop production.

Generating income for millions of rural women: Bamboo value chains implemented and tested by INBAR strengthen bamboo and rattan enterprises run by women, but further validation is needed if these are to be scaled-up to benefit many millions more.

Providing a year-round crop for animal fodder: Requiring little maintenance, limited water requirements, and providing a perennial source of edible plant material, bamboo could offer a sustainable alternative fodder source to millions of livestock farmers worldwide.

Blog by: Jack Durrell, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
Picture courtesy: INBAR

This is a live blog, reporting from the GFAR Constituent Assembly

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