17 April 2020 – In our previous article, we discussed how two early bilateral visits between China and Ecuador in 2000 and 2002, supported by INBAR, laid the foundations for the relationship between the Chinese and Ecuadorian governments that continues to grow today, pushed forward by bamboo industry development. The third such visit happened in back in 2005 and built on the research and capacity building work carried out several years before.
The 2005 China/INBAR expert delegation was supported by INBAR’s projects, which had been going on in the region for several years. Back in 2002, 50 sampes of bamboo species had been sent to Ecuador from China for testing, and in 2005 the group found that 37 of the 50 species, or 74%, were still thirving in the demonstration plot set up. The team identified a group of species that were predicted to be especially well adapted to Ecuador’s needs and environment, including Dendrocalamus, Bambusa, Neosinocalamus, Cephalostchyum, Schizostachyum, Chimonocalamus, Thyrsostchys, Pseudoatachym, Gigantochloa, and Melocalamus. Chinese expert Professor Yang Yuming carried out this valuable research and published the report “A Survey Report on the Bamboo Species in Ecuador” (2005) [Click to download], which led to these recommendations.
Adapting Chinese technology to Ecuador’s needs
The delegation also provided specific technical support for on-going projects. An engineer from Anji Province, a bamboo-growing region of China, visited the village of Carlos Julio Arosemena in the Daule Peripa area as part of this tour. The village was the site of a Bamboo Processing Centre that used Chinese technology and had been set up as part of INBAR’s project activity in the area. By studying the local conditions, the engineer was able to adapt the production line and put in place new set of procedures for the centre. This represented an important step for Ecuador-China bamboo industrial cooperation. Chinese technology is often tailored for used with monopodial bamboo species that grown natively in Asia, while in Ecuador it is more common to see sympodial or clumping bamboo. Overcoming this technological barrier was an important step towards utilising China’s bamboo expertise in other countries.
The current situation
In 2017, the amount of managed bamboo forest in Ecuador had increased to more than 15,000 ha, from around 6,000 ha in 2000. INBAR’s Latin America and the Caribbean Office is a hub for bamboo development information, projects and collaboration in th region, with several projects running as of 2020 in Ecuador, but also branching into Peru and Columbia. INBAR estimates that the bamboo sector accounted for 0.5% of the country’s GDP, or USD 475 million, and 2% of the country’s agricultural export value, or around USD 217 million. In 2019, the Ecuadorian government released its first ever National Bamboo Development Strategy and Action Plan, with support from INBAR.
The sector is growing, but still faces many technological, policy an resource challenges, many of which are mentioned in the Strategy and Action Plan. INBAR, the Chinese government and the Ecuadorian government remain committed to the sustainable development of the bamboo sector in Ecuador.
In 2019, INBAR’s bilateral Training Programmes continued. Click here to read more, or watch this drone footage of Ecuador’s bamboo forests below.