Addis Ababa March 30/2016 The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has revealed plans to utilize the nation's vast bamboo resource for socio-economic development.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, Public Relation Director with the ministry, Debasu Bayleyegn said the ministry is working in collaboration with partners by employing a strategic plan to conserve, develop and manage the country's bamboo resource.
Ethiopia is beginning to use its bamboo resources for environmental conservation and for watershed management, the director said, mentioning the popular use of bamboo for fuel, fencing, as tool for agriculture and decorating homes and furniture among the public.
According to Debasu, people in urban areas craft household items from bamboo for income generation through the micro and small enterprises.
Integrated research, development and utilization of technologies is underway with a view to promoting rational utilization of the resource.
Project Coordinator with the ministry, Tefera Mengistu said studies are underway to ensure the expansion of bamboo resource in the country.
He noted that countries like China and several other Asian countries are utilizing bamboo for various purposes including for food and other household uses.
In Ethiopia, bamboo forests are available in the regional states of Benishangul-Gumaz, Southern Nations Nationalities and People's, Oromiya and Amhara.
The regional state of Benishangul-Gumaz is mobilizing local farmers and investors to promote the expansion of manufacturing industries that utilize bamboo resources, Tefera added.
He said finished products made from bamboo including stationary items and construction materials can be exported to generate foreign currency for the nation.
Ethiopia is set to establish the first ever training centre that would enable it to expand the development and utilization of bamboo and its coverage.
Bamboo forest in Ethiopia is believed to cover one million hectares of land, comprising about 67 percent of African bamboo resources.
However, recent findings indicate that only 500, 000 -700, 000 hectares of land is covered with bamboo, it was indicated.
Officials blame expansion of farmlands, unplanned resettlement programs, as well as lack of proper management for the decline of the resource at national level.
Frequent wild fire and the negative effects of bio-deteriorating agents are also mentioned as contributors for the decrease.
Bamboo is a fast growing high yield perennial plant with more than 1,500 species worldwide.