NAIROBI, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Kenya said on Friday that China's support has been instrumental in the development of robust bamboo value chain in the eastern African region.
Keriako Tobiko, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said that support from Beijing has revitalized the commercialization of bamboo products in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.
"The effort is credited for creating knowledge in bamboo value chain, product design, marketing and standardization to further unlock the vast potential of bamboo resources for green economic growth, trade and wealth creation," Tobiko said at an event to mark the international bamboo day.
He said that through the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), the Chinese and Dutch expertise in bamboo value chain has enabled the East Africa nations to unlock the potential of the indigenous tree species.
"The Dutch-Sino-East Africa Bamboo Development Program effort is already contributing to green economic growth, international trade and investment between Europe, China and East Africa," said Tobiko.
He said that the Kenyan cabinet has sanctioned the classification and designation of bamboo as a scheduled crop.
Tobiko said this classification aims to foster the commercialization of bamboo plants and generate new jobs for the youth through the restoration of degraded landscapes.
He said that the development of a national bamboo policy will be completed in October to help increase bamboo forest cover to 140,000 hectares in government land and forest reserves.
Tobiko said the government has prioritized a policy shift to ensure that exotic forest plantations on water catchments are being replaced with indigenous tree species, including bamboo.
He said that Kenya has over 10,000 documented bamboo products cutting across timber substitutes, fiber and textile, plastic composites, food and beverage, energy, health and cosmetic industry.
"This makes it a versatile resource which can efficiently and effectively contribute to the national strategy for 10 percent tree cover and the achievement of the President's big four Agenda for Kenya's economic development," said Tobiko.
He said that with the furniture market estimated at 50 billion shillings (about 463 million U.S. dollars) and an annual growth rate of 10 percent per annum, the sector has the potential to support a vibrant bamboo industry.
Kenya has a total Bamboo growing area of 133,273 hectares, concentrated in mountain ranges and forest areas managed by the national government.
The combined planting by communities is now estimated to cover over 2,000 hectares while the private sector has established about 4,000 hectares of commercial bamboo plantations countrywide.
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