Kenya unveils its National Bamboo Policy
The new Kenyan National Bamboo Policy is set to spark new measures to develop the bamboo sector in the country.
The Kenyan Government has approved the National Bamboo Policy of 2022 which allows Kenyans to grow and harvest bamboo for both environmental conservation and value-addition. On 27 May 2022 former President Uhuru Kenyatta launched an accelerated national tree-growing campaign with an assurance of Kenya’s commitment to combating the challenges arising from climate change. Following this, in September 2022 the cabinet classified bamboo as a crop to foster commercialization and boost the status of the plant. Bamboo has since been a key part of Kenya’s Greening Campaign because growing bamboo allows for an increase in forest cover and generates employment opportunities through agroforestry and value-addition.
As specified in the document, the goal of the policy is to develop a vibrant bamboo sub-sector, benefiting both present and future generations, through sustainable management, increasing the area coverage of bamboo and enabling commercialization through value addition. The direction of the policy is detailed in seven main areas, including Bamboo Resource Development; Promoting Value-Addition and Value-Chains; Market Development, Research and Innovation; Education, Training and Skills Development; Awareness, Communication and Knowledge Management; and Creating a Favourable Environment for Investment. The document also provides a framework for improved governance, resource allocation, partnerships and collaboration with state and non-state actors.
The National Bamboo Policy is one of the high-level documents adopted by the Government of Kenya to strengthen environmental management and sustainable development endeavors within legal and institutional frameworks. Speaking during the launch of the policy document, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said that the bold actions taken by the government towards increasing Kenya’s forest cover are bearing fruits. He further noted that the government has taken up bamboo as a priority, and that relevant agencies and ministries are working to ensure its commercialization.
Bamboo has continued to gain recognition in Kenya as a multipurpose plant with many uses including timber substitution, a source of bioenergy, as a sustainable raw material for small-scale enterprises, and for its ecosystem services such as the protection of water catchment areas. Intensifying the growing of bamboo in forests is therefore important not only to ensure sustained supply to industries but also for domestic consumption. Bamboo planting will also contribute to key national goals, such as Kenya’s Vision 2030, under which it aims to become a middle-income nation in the next two decades.
The Dutch-Sino-East Africa Bamboo Development Programme Phase II has supported the development of the bamboo sector in Kenya. The project thus far has supported the development of ten bamboo standards and three national bamboo policies in the target countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.