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The DERP Regional Director Dr. Albert Luvanda speaking to the media in his office during this year’s 11th World Bamboo Day celebrations said that Bamboo is one of the flagship species for planting in Kitui and the entire eastern region.
According to Dr. Luvanda, bamboo trials have shown that it can be propagated through seeds and cuttings and reports on the same have been distributed across the Country.
The World Bamboo Organization during the 8th World Bamboo Congress held in Bangkok, Thailand on September 18, 2009 officially established the World Bamboo Day which is celebrated to increase the awareness of the bamboo globally.
KEFRI produces 50,000 bamboo seedlings annually in the entire country of which DERP contributes between 6,000 and 8,000 seedlings mainly Bambusa vulgaris and Oxytenthera abyssinica.
"The two species are fast growing and preferable in rehabilitating riverbanks and water catchments even in lowland areas," said Dr. Luvanda.
Generally, bamboo is used in construction industry but it has many other uses like in the cottage industry where they can be weaved into various products including baskets, toothpick, beads, the scientist said. However in Kenya, bamboo has not been fully exploited for production of pulp and paper, fiber, food stuff, charcoal and medicinal products.
Dr. Luvanda said that the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) which has played a pivotal role in advancing development of the bamboo and rattan sector in this region.
Dr.Luvanda displaying Oxytenthera abyssinica and Bambusa vulgaris species propagated at KEFRI Kitui nursery. The two varieties thrive even in low attitude
INBAR through the Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme is to enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits from bamboo in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, by developing inclusive and sustainable value chains for industries, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), resulting in; increased food security, and improved environmental management, and enhanced livelihood opportunities. The programme is supporting poverty reduction, sustainable development, climate change action and international trade.
The expert said the replicability in Latin America and Africa of the success stories from South and South East Asia is yet to be assessed despite the immense interest from the private sector, NGOs and government institutions in using the bamboo and rattan to fuel rural development in the region.
Development of bamboo and rattan sector in the country is hindered by shortage of information within the value chain, noted Dr. Luvanda.
“For instance pre-treatment of bamboo culms is critical in preventing post-harvest loss which generally occurs when borers attack bamboo culm due to the high sugar content in it," he said.
“In addition, INBAR has commissioned national studies from selected countries in Africa, Central and South America to review the current state and future potential of bamboo and rattan sector,” he added.
In these studies certain standard indicators will be documented to allow the regional comparisons while other information will be country-specific, he said. The regional director indicated that the national studies will enable experts decide priority areas for further research at local, national and regional levels.
“The findings will clearly define INBAR's role within these countries as a facilitator and coordinator,” he said, adding that the organization has developed an outline for these national studies.
"The outline aims to facilitate the data collection process and assist in the formulation of the case study reports," he said.
The frame work also guarantees that comparable information is provided in each national study.
"The system includes the technologies used to process the material as well as the social, political and economic environments in which these processes operates, are also covered in the case study," said Dr. Luvanda.