LUWEERO – Government has outlined a 10-year plan where UGX162.6 billion will be invested in the planting of 375,000 hectares of bamboo forests all over the country.
Bamboo, a non-timber forest resource with potential for food, construction, craft materials, fuelwood and fodder currently covers about 54,533 hectares across the country.
Speaking at celebrations to mark World Bamboo Day in Luweero District at the weekend, Mr Issaa Katwesige, the principal forest officer in the Ministry of Water and Environment, said they have partnered with private investors to promote growing of the bamboo trees.
“The Ministry of Water and Environment is at the forefront of seeing the Bamboo industry flourish with a robust annual bamboo seeds distribution programme across various regions and ecological zones in the country where an estimated 40,000 bamboo seedlings are distributed each year as part of the government intervention,” Mr Katwesige said.
“About Shs162.6b from government, development partners and the private sector will be needed to develop the bamboo industry within the next 10 years where we target 375,000 hectares in both plantation and natural regeneration,” he added
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Water and Environment through the National Forestry Authority (NFA). It will be funded by the Dutch-Sino Programme through the International Centre for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR).
The project consultant, Mr Dickson Council Langoya, said the move is part of the government’s effort to restore the degraded forests and increase forest cover.
“The country is already implementing the programme of forest land restoration where Uganda has committed to restoring 2.5m hectares of land and 15% of NFA land for restoration should be for bamboo,” he added.
He stressed that under the project, 28-30% of bamboo should be on the government land and 72% on private land.
Mr Langoya noted that bamboo is an indigenous crop in Uganda but they want to modernise it and add value for industrial productions like producing paper to create employment among others.
The NFA executive director, Mr Tom Okello Obong, said the strategy is aimed at streamlining the management and conservation of bamboo.
“Uganda is picking interest in bamboo upon realisation of the importance of bamboo as a crop. It has a very big importance to the social contribution and environment of the country. It has been proven in countries like China and India where they have had bamboo for the last 40 years,” he noted.
Bamboo can be propagated through producing seeds, stem or stems with roots. It takes about six months to a year in a nursery bed. It takes three to five or seven years to mature for harvest, depending on the species.
Bamboo species can grow anywhere apart from two types (mountain bamboo and low land bamboo).
Bamboo is spaced depending on the size ranging from 3ft to 7ft. It can be planted in most soil types but generally grows best in a moderately acidic, well-drained, moist, fertile loamy soil and sandy loam soils.