International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

Starting the Inter-Africa Livelihood Development Programme

8 Apr 2019

Now in its fourth month, the Inter-Africa Livelihood Development programme is already making important progress across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar.

About the project: The Inter-Africa Bamboo Smallholder Farmers Livelihood Development Programme aims to improve the incomes, livelihoods and climate change adaptive capacities of African smallholder farmers, women and youth, by increasing their participation in bamboo value chains in four countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar. The programme was developed by INBAR and is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The programme runs from 2018 to 2021.

According to Ernest Nti Acheampong, bamboo “could benefit millions of disadvantaged rural communities and smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Fast growing, flexible and harvested every year, bamboo is easily integrated into smallholder agriculture or can be farmed as a main cash crop. Bamboo also has important benefits where climate change is concerned: it is a perennial resource with relatively high tolerance to climate shocks, such as drought and fluctuating temperatures, and can help to build smallholder farm resilience to climate change. For Mr. Acheampong, who manages the Inter-Africa Livelihoods Development Programme, “Millions of people are already using this resource, but its full potential as a climate-smart farming option and large-scale tool for economic security haven’t been realised in a number of countries. That’s what the Inter-Africa Programme aims to help with.”

Minister Ndongo addressing the inception workshop

The Inter-Africa Bamboo Smallholder Farmers Livelihood Development Programme was launched in January, in a two-day workshop in Yaoundé organised by INBAR and the Republic of Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, and Ministry of External Relations. Seventy representatives from government ministries in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, as well as research institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society, attended. A number of high-level speakers, including Cameroon’s Minister of Forest and Wildlife, Mr. Jules Doret Ndongo, and Mr. Bernard Hien, Country Director and Head of IFAD’s sub-regional office for Central Africa, expressed their delight about the growing number of bamboo development initiatives that are currently being implemented in Africa.

“Millions of people are already using [bamboo], but its full potential as a climate-smart farming option and large-scale tool for economic security haven’t been realised in a number of countries.”

In the four months since then, work has already started in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar. Three training sessions have been held, on bamboo nursery establishment and propagation, for 100 beneficiaries. In April, the programme organised a successful study tour to Ethiopia, where 15 bamboo practitioners from the four project countries experienced firsthand the impressive development of Ethiopia’s bamboo sector. Overall, participants were very impressed with the different activities and the products that are coming from the bamboo sector. The tour may be particularly beneficial to participants from Cameroon and Ghana, whose governments are just launching a number of activities that have already been implemented by Ethiopia, such as the establishment of nurseries and training centres.

The Inter-Africa project works directly with farmers on bamboo planting and management activities.

One of the key objectives of the Inter Africa program is to contribute toward the restoration of degraded lands: an approach which has already been demonstrably successful in Ethiopia. So far, nurseries are being established across all project countries, and bamboo seedlings are being produced, ready to be supplied to the government for distribution to smallholder farmers for plantation establishment. A tissue culture laboratory is also being planned in Madagascar, in partnership with local poverty alleviation programme PROSPERER. Later this month, INBAR, PROSPERER and the Government of Madagascar will be launching a 100-hectare bamboo plantation: a pilot site which aims to raise awareness about bamboo’s potent role in land restoration.

A number of other key contracts have been signed for further work. This includes a consultancy to undertake bamboo value-chain mapping in Ghana. Discussions are also in place to conduct GIS remote sensing studies in Ghana and Cameroon, to find out more about these countries’ bamboo resources. The potential of these studies is important: similar reports, produced for a number of countries in East and Central Africa, have provided a clear analysis for policy makers and bamboo practitioners regarding the best products to help develop the bamboo sector, and are contributing to the formation of national bamboo policies in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

For more information about the Inter-Africa Livelihood Development Programme, click here.