International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

SDG 1: End Poverty


Bamboo and rattan grow locally to some of the poorest communities in the tropical and subtropical belt. INBAR has worked across the world to promote bamboo and rattan’s use in environmentally sustainable rural development, and contributes to the UN’s first Sustainable Development Goal: the elimination of poverty.

Several things make bamboo and rattan a particularly important way to create or improve livelihoods, and reduce poverty:

  • Bamboo and rattan have a multiple array of high-value end uses as commodities. Bamboo can be used to make products such as laminated plywood, flat-pack furniture and activated charcoal; rattan, meanwhile, is being used for furniture and potentially as a material in bone replacement. The huge variety of potential products gives producers a wide range of options, and increases their flexibility in times of market stress.
  • Bamboo and rattan have a long history of use in many societies. The processing of new products can build on existing skills and is more likely to be chosen by stakeholders than an entirely new technology.
  • Bamboo’s lightweight and linear-splitting nature makes it comparatively easier to process than timber. This provides farmers, many of whom are women, with opportunities to engage in initial processing, and this increases their share in value addition.
  • Rattan is a very important plant for many poor communities. Certain rural communities across Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam derive 50 per cent of their cash income from rattan products.
  • Bamboo can be intercropped, requires few inputs and grows back after harvesting without the need for replanting—making it an essentially ‘renewable’ resource.

For more than 20 years, INBAR’s work in countries across the world has demonstrated how bamboo and rattan can generate new income streams and a better quality of life for rural people, through creation of small businesses, social enterprises, and women’s and community groups. Funding from IFAD alone has resulted in the creation of some 50 enterprises and cooperatives, and generated an estimated 250,000 jobs. These are approaches that can work for more than 50 bamboo resource countries across the world’s tropical and sub-tropical belts.



Aside from promoting bamboo and rattan as pro-poor non-timber forest products, INBAR also monitors the state of global and national trade in bamboo and rattan, in a number of ways.

  • Monitoring global trade of bamboo and rattan commodities

The total world market value (domestic and international) for bamboo and rattan products is estimated to be about USD 60 billion, according to data from the UN Comtrade database—the largest depository of international trade data—and national statistics authorities. The international trade of bamboo and rattan between countries is only a small part of the total trade of bamboo and rattan products, the majority of which is conducted in domestic markets. The annual international trade value of the bamboo and rattan sector is estimated to be USD 2.5 billion.

  • Setting codes and standards

As an international nomenclature for the classification of products, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems (HS) allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes.

Prior to 2007 there were 10 6-digit UN HS codes covering bamboo and rattan commodities, including bamboo and rattan vegetable materials, plaiting articles, furniture and seats, and bamboo shoots, of which only two were specified for bamboo and rattan. As such, a sizeable proportion of bamboo and rattan trade likely goes undocumented every year.  With the efforts of INBAR, the World Customs Organization and Chinese Customs, 14 new codes for bamboo and rattan have been put into effect since 2007, in which individual codes were given to bamboo and rattan wickerwork, furniture and seats, and bamboo charcoal, flooring, plywood, pulp, paper and preserved bamboo shoots. In 2018, there were 24 HS codes for bamboo and rattan.

For more information, please read our publication on HS codes here.

  • Maintaining a database

One of the functions of INBAR is to collate and analyze global trade data and present it to its Member States and the world. INBAR has been the recognized International Commodity Body for bamboo and rattan under the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) since 2001.

Based on UN Comtrade data, INBAR maintains a trade database where users can access information about imports and exports of various bamboo and rattan products, based on their code / the commodity type, the year, the area / country / trading partner and HS nomenclature.

The INBAR trade database can be accessed here.

  • Publishing annual trade reports

Every year, INBAR attends meetings of the CFC. It also publishes its analysis of United Nations Comtrade data about bamboo and rattan. The latest reports can be found on the INBAR library.

Trade Overview 2016: Bamboo and Rattan Products in the International Market (read here)

International Trade of Bamboo and Rattan in China in 2017 (read here)