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New INBAR app tracks bamboo in East Africa

INBAR News
14May

INBAR’s new mobile app assists with on-farm inventory data collection across Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda

Bamboo is an important crop for many farmers and small to medium enterprises. Often grown in households, shelter beds, farms and micro-plantations – in areas which can cover as little as a few square metres – this plant comprises the majority of raw bamboo material used in local industry and small to medium enterprises.

Despite this, little is known about the scale or quality of bamboo grown on farms and in households. Existing data focuses mainly on bamboo forests, which are larger and easier to measure, but are also often legally inaccessible and so remain out of reach to farmers and industries. A better understanding of local managed bamboo stocks will enable industries to identify suitable suppliers of bamboo goods, and policy makers to assess the potential for wider sector development. Indeed, data on the location, quantity and quality of bamboo resources are critical for enterprises, industries and national governments to develop supply chains, attract investments and design appropriate development interventions to build the bamboo sector.

Training in how to use the app is planned for five countries.

As part of the Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme, INBAR has developed a participatory, user-friendly inventory of on-farm bamboo resources across four countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda. The final results can be visualised on a specially created web platform, as well as through a mobile app (available through Google Play store as ‘INBAR Bamboo Survey’). Users can contribute data to the app, by collecting geo-referenced data on bamboo plantations, disturbance, as well as information about a bamboo area’s ownership, size and quality. Once synchronised, the data help to form a comprehensive map of bamboo resources across these four countries. Users can download data for their area of interest (country, region, sub-region, district and village level) in either excel or GIS format. Internet access is only required for registration and to synchronise data to the server, making it easier to use in bamboo growing locations which do have internet access.

A screenshot of INBAR’s mobile app.

INBAR has already conducted training on how to use this mobile app. On 25-28 April, a training session was held for staff members of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), as well as representatives from the environment and forestry departments of Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s, and Tigray regions, several Universities and INBAR project staff members. Mr. Abebaw Alene, from MOEFCC, described the app as “very important, easy to use”, and said that it would “reduce time and effort in data collection for resource identification and quantification”. Mr. Yeshaneh Tarekegn, from the Amhara Agriculture and Natural Resources Burea mentioned that the app “will be useful in planning supply-chain and industry”. Similar trainings are planned for Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda.