Food for thought: Plating up bamboo in Madagascar
Training, demonstrations and the establishment of a bamboo shoots enterprise are helping to spread the word about bamboo edibility in Madagascar.
Even though bamboo is recognised around the world as a healthy food option and is savoured by food enthusiasts, many people are still unaware of this unique plant’s edibility. One such place is Mananjary, Madagascar. Despite its abundant bamboo resources – the region is naturally abundant in bamboo resources, with large plantations of Bambusa vulgaris, Dendrocalamus strictus, Dendrocalamus giganteus – the island’s locals seem to know little about bamboo’s edibility.
As part of the EU-IFAD-funded project, South-south knowledge transfer strategies for scaling-up sustainable pro-poor livelihoods, INBAR and its implementing partner PROSPERER are working to emphasise the potential of bamboo for enhancing food security through use of edible bamboo shoots. As part of this programme, the project team held several training programmes and demonstrations in Mananjary to demonstrate that bamboo shoots can be used as human food.
Over 20 locals took part in training programmes, where they learned how to harvest bamboo shoots and process them for food. During the training, participants were informed about the necessary vitamins and supplements that bamboo shoots can provide to the human body. The participants were also introduced to eating raw bamboo shoots in salad, cooking shoots with meat and also pickling bamboo shoots. The training was very well received by the locals.
Since the training, the project team has established a small bamboo shoot processing enterprise, ‘AINA’, and is helping to develop market linkages for this. The enterprise currently involves around a third of the village residents.
The members of AINA also participated in the VOATRA IV Bamboo Creativity & Trade Fair, organised in the capital city of Antananarivo in September last year by PROSPERER and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As a marketing measure and also to further raise awareness of the edibility of bamboo, a free tasting and demonstration session was organised for visitors.
President of the Senate samples bamboo shoots in the tasting session organised during the VOATRA IV Bamboo Creativity & Trade fair
Andrianarizaka Raharijaona, interregional coordinator of PROSPERER Programme and a local partner of INBAR, explains how the enterprise is now making continuous efforts to mainstream bamboo shoots as a food item in the Vatovavy Fitovinany region of Madagascar. “Participating in the fair provided a great platform to the locals and also gave them more confidence to continue and pursue this niche market.”
The current production capacity of the enterprise is approximately 300 kg of bamboo shoot pickle in a month. “Once the market demand is established for this, the enterprise can be upscaled to meet larger orders. If needed, similar enterprises can also be set up in other neighboring areas,” adds Raharijaona.