INBAR African Member States participants joined the Ghana Bamboo Study Tour from 27-29 April 2021.
As part of initiatives to share Ghana’s bamboo development experience and knowledge with the rest of Africa, 13 international participants from INBAR Member states in Central, Eastern and West Africa, joined 47 of their colleagues in Ghana on a 4-day bamboo study tour which started from 27 to 30 April 2021. The study tour was supported by the China-IFAD South-South Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) facility as complementary funding to the Inter-Africa Bamboo Smallholder Farmers Livelihood Development Programme.
Participating countries included Benin, Burundi Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Representatives from these countries included policymakers from state institutions, development programme managers, civil society actors, the media and private sector entrepreneurs. The was tour designed to inspire deliberations and extensive exchanges among participants, especially on how smallholder farmers can benefit from the bamboo value chain and also explore strategic plans and actions for the industrialisation of the bamboo sector in their respective countries. A knowledge sharing and networking session on the first day of the tour, offered participants a platform to identify and explore bamboo development ideas and options with promising potential to accelerate rural poverty alleviation for smallholders, promote sustainable development and transform local economies.
Subsequent days on the tour took participants to community bamboo propagation and nursery sites established by INBAR and the Bamboo and Rattan Unit of Ghana’s Forestry Commission. The objective was to show participants the propagation methods, best practices in nursery management as well as how smallholder farmers can benefit from such establishments to improve their livelihoods. The visit also showed how the government’s support with regards to policy development and the creation of an enabling environment can sustain bamboo development initiatives.
“What I have seen in Ghana that is particularly different is the engagement of government and policy support for the smallholder farmers in terms of nursery production, in terms of learning and teaching. We have had to chart our own path in terms of learning in Kenya. But I think in terms of the production side, we would like to a see lot more happening”, said Caroline Wangui Kariuki, tour participant from Kenya.
The team also paid a visit to some bamboo enterprises such as Pamplo Ghana Limited; a small-scale enterprise producing about 30,000 bottles of toothpick monthly and a range of bamboo products including kebab sticks, cocktail sticks, dowel sticks, tongue press, coffee stir sticks and skewers. The Chief Executive Officer, Kenneth Okine, shared with the team some valuable lessons from the company’s operations and how similar setups can be established in other African countries. A stopover at the famous Booomers Bamboo Bike Company in Ghana also gave participants, an insight into how durable bamboo bicycle frames are made and the sustainable job opportunities the entire value chain creates; specifically, from nursery and plantation management, harvesting, processing and bicycle frame construction.
Participants also had the opportunity to visit the Animal Science Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of science and technology where ongoing research commissioned by INBAR West Africa Regional Office, is looking into the viability of bamboo leaves as feed for livestock under the Inter-Africa Bamboo Smallholder Farmers Livelihood Development Programme. Preliminary findings from the research already show positive results and would be a useful addition to the feed mix options for smallholder livestock farmer in Ghana and within the sub-region.
According to Rene Kaam, Director of INBAR Central Africa Regional Office and coordinator of the SSTC implementation facility, the overall aim of the tour is to enable representatives from participating countries to learn from Ghana’s bamboo development lessons and experiences to inform their own development pathways. He further added that INBAR would continue to organise such important learning tours to facilitate the rapid development of Africa’s bamboo and rattan resources to drive growth and development.