Kampala. Government has set aside Shs290b to promote the growth of bamboo, a fast maturing tree.
In the new initiative, government seeks to create an alternative to fuel wood, raw materials for paper making, increase forest cover there by addressing climate change and also export raw and finished products from the tree.
Mr Dickson Council Lugooya, the consultant bamboo strategy for Uganda, said the country has only about 67,000 hectares of bamboo at the moment mainly found in government land in gazetted national parks and forest reserves.
The initiative will seek to increase bamboo coverage to 375,000 hectares in the next 10 years which is expected to bring in $200m (about Shs750b) in revenue.
“It is good for climate change adaptation and mitigation because of the fast growth and returns that comes from bamboo,” Mr Lugooya said last week in Kampala
The money, he said, will be used to support farmers on the growth of bamboo and sensitise the public about its returns.
Mr Tom Okello, the National Forest Authority (NFA), executive director, said bamboo grows fast and has continuous reproduction thus limiting the rate of depletion.
“You cut one [bamboo tree] today you are propagating. Several shoots will come up ... we use bamboo as a landscape restoration for river banks, and swamps, fragile ecosystem,” he said.
The ministry of water and environment through the National Forestry Authority in partnership with the International Centre for Bamboo and Rattan will implement the strategy.
Ms Flavia Munaaba Nabugere, the Uganda Bamboo Association secretary general urged government to deal directly with farmers given that in most cases money intended for such projects doesn’t reach them.
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Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It grows faster than most tree. Unlike other tree species, which take 10-30 years to mature, bamboo takes three to five years. It also consumes more carbon dioxide and generates more oxygen. It is also good for timber and has other purposes such as serving as a living fence, construction and fuel for cooking, among others.