As part of its Green Growth strategy, the Rwandan Ministry of Environment under its water and forestry division is set to cultivate bamboos on a large scale and subsequently process them for environmentally friendly and sustainable packages as well as for the production of paper products and possibly edible foods.
The initiative, according to The New Times is going to be done in partnership with the China Bamboo Aid Project.
Set to be planted along the country’s river banks as an environmental conservation effort, Augustin Mihigo, who is a Bamboo Production and Non-Timber Forest Products Specialist at Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority told The New Times four more bamboo species are going to be introduced, thus adding to the five that are currently out there.
“We have now about five big bamboos species of which some are edible as vegetables (salad) when they are still young and can also be processed into other food products with some technology that’s used in China. The others are for timber to produce tiles, packaging papers and hygiene papers,” he said.
With a handful of bamboo greenhouse nurseries spread out across some districts in the country, Mihigo added that multiplication is currently ongoing with the nurseries in the Huye, Rulindo and Nyandungu districts having the ability to produce up to 1, 500 seedlings each in six months.
“The multiplication is underway while we also teach people on cooking methods. It is yet to reach mass consumption,” he said.
Plans to construct other nurseries are also in the pipeline. Mihigo also confirmed to The New Times that a large number of new bamboo species will be planted on 300 hectares of land in the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
“We have secured the budget. One hectare requires Rwf2 million to be planted,” he said.
However, though promising, the unavailability of land is proving to be a stumbling block in the country’s quest of cultivating as much bamboo species as possible, according to Mihigo.
“We have not yet got enough bamboos for production of hygiene paper products and packaging materials despite having completed the feasibility study for the factory for which we are looking for an investor to partner with. We will start with a small model factory that can process bamboos from 500 hectares but we need at least 5,000 hectares to feed a big factory,” he added.