Bamboo as an alternative to tobacco

MENU

Bamboo as an alternative to tobacco

Kenya

2006
2013

Bamboo production as an alternative crop and livelihood strategy for tobacco smallholder farmers in South Nyanza, Kenya

“Since I started growing bamboo, my life has taken a different direction: I can now afford almost everything I have always wished to have.” – Thomas Mahiri, 58

Despite global policies aimed at reducing world tobacco production and use, the number of farmers engaged in tobacco farming in some parts of the world is increasing at an alarming rate. For many communities, tobacco is regarded as the only viable cash crop and there are few viable alternatives.

This was the impetus behind a South Eastern Kenya University, Maseno University, and INBAR-led project, Bamboo production as an alternative crop and livelihood strategy for tobacco smallholder farmers in South Nyanza, Kenya. The project, which took place between 2006 and 2013, aimed to establish bamboo as an alternative crop and form of livelihood across four sites in Kenya. Smallholder tobacco farmers were the main beneficiaries of this project.

This project had several components, aimed at increasing farmers’ capacity to switch from tobacco to bamboo farming. This included providing 120 farmers with bamboo seedlings; establishing nurseries for bamboo plants; and providing capacity training and materials to farmers to help with bamboo harvesting, preservation and treatment, as well as the creation of bamboo products such as handicrafts.

The project ran from 2006 to 2013, and resulted in some remarkable impacts:

– Bamboo had made a positive impact on most farmers’ livelihoods – over 75 per cent households in all sites. “This improvement was attributed to both the monetary and non-monetary benefits accrued from bamboo investment.”

– 75 per cent of farmers abandoned tobacco farming over the course of the project.

– Farmers were making use of bamboo’s other benefits. In one project site, 95 per cent of households were using bamboo to construct houses and fencing as well as handicrafts and furniture. In addition, all project sites saw a decrease in soil erosion due to bamboo planting.

– Seedlings were the main form of income for farmers, followed by bamboo products and then bamboo poles. This is likely to change over following years, as bamboo plants mature and higher value products such as furniture and handicrafts reach the market.

Overall, this project has “demonstrated great potential in providing technical advice and support to the implementation of Articles 17 and 18 of WHO-FCTC.”

The end-of-project report Bamboo production as an alternative crop and livelihood strategy for tobacco smallholder farmers in South Nyanza, Kenya can be read here. The report can be cited as: Fu, J. 2013. ‘Bamboo production as an alternative crop and livelihood strategy for tobacco smallholder farmers in South Nyanza, Kenya: Phase II’. INBAR Technical Report. INBAR, Kenya.

Project partners

Project resources

Latest Project Resources

Bamboost Conference - Programme and Abstracts

The programme and abstracts for the Bamboost Conference, which took place at ...

South-South in Action - Inspiring Sustainable Develoment with Bamboo

INBAR has made important contributions to rural development using bamboo, t...

INBAR Construction Task Force Newsletter 2017 Q2

Since its establishment in 2014, the INBAR Construction Task Force ...

INBAR and the Sustainable Development Goals

This short leaflet describes the potential uses of bamboo and rattan for the ...

Impacts of INBAR Interventions in Ghana

Ghana is the present leader in West Africa in terms of bamboo and rattan sect...

INBAR Annual Report 2016

2016 was a global year of action. Bamboo and rattan are excellent strategic r...

Bamboo: a strategic new resource for development - IFAD's pioneering support

This brochure gives a summary of IFAD's support to bamboo development as an e...

Dutch-Sino-East Africa Bamboo Development Programme - brochure

A brochure on INBAR's Dutch-Sino-East Africa programme, which is supporti...

Make in India - Unleashing the benefits of bamboo

Providing input into the efforts of the Indian Ministry of Environment, Fores...

Scoping study to inform the Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan (GABAR)

Bamboo and rattan are hugely versatile plants with many documented uses and a...

Donors