Date Posted: August 20th, 2012
Bamboo grows in many parts of Africa. The plant is a woody grass which can produce stems many metres high. Some types of bamboo can grow very fast, up to a metre per day. The stems, often known as poles, are very light, strong and durable when dried. These properties make bamboo a suitable raw material for many goods, including building materials, handicrafts, furniture, flooring and cooking implements.
For more general information on bamboo, visit: http://www.kew.org/plants/bamboos/index.html
You can find useful information and contacts on the website of the International Bamboo and Rattan Network: http://www.inbar.int
Read more about Bamcraft, the initiative mentioned in the story: http://www.bamcraft.com/
Bamboo received the backing of Wangari Maathai in Kenya, as an alternative to eucalyptus. Bamboo uses little water, can prevent soil erosion and has many uses: http://allafrica.com/stories/201104280123.html
Here is a short article and audio piece on bamboo in Africa: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=99
Here are three recent stories from Farm Radio Weekly related to bamboo:
Democratic Republic of Congo: Cooler houses with bamboo roofs (FRW 160, June 2011). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/20/democratic-republic-of-congo-cooler-houses-with-bamboo-roofs-syfia-grands-lacs/
Kenya: Farmers replace water-hungry eucalyptus with bamboo (FRW 107, April 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/04/19/2-kenya-farmers-replace-water-hungry-eucalyptus-with-bamboo-scidevnet-daily-nation/
Mozambique: A farmer builds a silo with local materials to reduce post-harvest losses (FRW 120, July 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/19/1-mozambique-a-farmer-builds-a-silo-with-local-materials-to-reduce-post-harvest-losses-helvetas-mozambique-farm-radio-weekly/
Farm Radio International produced this resource on bamboo:
Fact Sheet on Bamboo. Package 80, Script 4, March 2007. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/80-4script_en.asp
Is bamboo commonly found in your listening communities? If so, what is it used for? You may wish to research this plant and find local or national organizations that promote it. If it is not common in your country, which types of trees are commonly found and used in ways similar to bamboo? You may wish to host a call-in/text-in show inviting listeners to answer such questions as:
-Which types of trees are common in your area? What role do these trees play (e.g., fuelwood, shade/shelter, social/cultural significance, environmental, etc.)? Are they planted for a specific purpose, or do they appear naturally?
-How common is bamboo in your area? Is it cultivated or does it grow naturally?
-What is it used for? Are there any restrictions to its cutting or use?
-How can it be used for income-generating purposes?