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Bamboo Farming

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If you were asked to list a hundred things you could do with bamboo, your first thought might be that bamboo poles can be tied together to make a fence, a bridge, a shack or some kind of settlement. Bamboo’s uses do indeed include construction (the costs of bamboo dwellings compare very favourably with conventional materials).

You would think that it can replace the need for trees as a source of wood (isn’t that great!) All types of furniture can be made, as well as fittings such as window blinds, fencing and flooring. It might come to you that charcoal can be produced, cutting-boards and various arts and crafts.

But would you think textiles? Bamboo towels and socks? Bamboo soap? Bamboo toilet paper? Bamboo beer, bamboo bicycles and bamboo corrugated roof sheets?

Bamboo does not have a hundred uses: studies done by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and other role players show over a thousand! Clearly there is a lot more to bamboo products and bamboo processing than would immediately occur to the reader. Not only does bamboo have many uses, it is a non-invasive crop that can help develop agriculture and contribute towards lifting human beings out of poverty by creating jobs in rural areas.

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[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1542271064224{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Benefits of Bamboo
International business environment
Local business environment
Role players
Websites and publications
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Benefits of Bamboo

  • combats soil erosion
  • reforests areas denuded of vegetation caused by demand for cooking fuel
  • removes heavy metals and other pollutants from polluted water
  • responds to climate change through carbon sequestration
  • provides shade and creates windbreaks for food crops
  • can be grown as a living fence to keep animals in or out
  • provides food for humans in the form of shoots and animal fodder in the form of leaves
  • assists in capturing water allowing it to percolate instead of flowing away
  • can be planted as noise barriers and windbreaks
  • develops greener more aesthetically pleasing settlements and a better living environment
  • provides a habitat for wildlife and improved biodiversity
  • contributes to economic development and creation of jobs at a local level
  • increases environmental awareness through communities locally and from publicity nationally
  • creates opportunities for communities to enter the New Green Economy and so creates rural wealth instead of the standard poverty relief programmes
Source: The above list accompanied the previous “Bamboo for Africa” programme.

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International business environment

  • A majority of Asian countries such as China, India, and Japan, as well as African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon are promoting the cultivation of bamboos and rattan.
  • Bamboos and rattan are increasingly becoming a preferred choice over timber as they are easier to harvest, transport, and are relatively affordable.
  • Since 2012, Chinese companies can offset their carbon emissions by buying credits in bamboo plantations (bamboo releases lots of oxygen into the air, swallowing four times as much carbon as some trees) (Economist, 2018).
  • The usage of toxic chemicals in the processing of processed bamboos and rattan products including furniture, flooring, and pulp & paper has led to the introduction of stringent laws and regulations. These regulations are expected to challenge the market growth over the forecast period.
  • The global bamboos market size was valued at USD 68.8 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.0% from 2019 to 2025.
Source: Unless stated otherwise, the above points come from the Grand View Research (2019) report at Find citations below.


Further reading

[/vc_column_text][mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]Investment schemes


Along with the incredible potential in this industry, it is perhaps inevitable that some investment schemes arise that sound too good to be true. Be cautious when bamboo plantation investments promise 25 to 25% returns from year one. Bamboo needs around four years to develop the 80 – 100mm culms. These culms have to mature for at least 24 months to gain the strength needed for the products.[/mk_blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1539769844359{padding-top: 30px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_separator el_id=”lbe”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553504692935{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

Local business environment

Find the overview of the bamboo industry in China, Africa and South Africa in the article by Scheba, A., Mayeki, S. & Blanchard, R (see below for full citation). The points below are taken from it.

  • EcoPlanet Bamboo in the Eastern Cape belongs to a leading multinational company specialising in substituting wood fibre products with bamboo.
  • Green Grid Beema Bamboo in KwaZulu-Natal received funding from South Africa’s Green Fund and is a national demonstration project for generating bioenergy from bamboo.
  • Smaller bamboo projects also operate in the Eastern Cape or KwaZulu-Natal, because these provinces are considered to be the most conducive regions for commercial growing due to soil, climate and rainfall conditions.
  • In addition to commercial growers, there are nurseries/tissue culture companies, specialised retailers, government agencies and consulting companies across the country, which have engaged in the local bamboo industry.
Source: Scheba, A., Mayeki, S. & Blanchard, R. 2018. “Bamboo for green development in South Africa?” Human Sciences Research Council. Available at

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Websites and publications

Some articles:

Our thanks to Willem Malherbe (National Bamboo Association of South Africa) and Pieter Joubert for feedback on the draft chapter.

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