Bamboo shoots are a local delicacy for communities surrounding Mount Elgon – both in Uganda and Kenya. Dried and smoked bamboo shoots, locally called melawa, are widely consumed as regular diet; often, shoots are cooked along with groundnut sauce as a daily meal.
For these communities, bamboo is an important source of food security. However, according to locals, the number and size of shoots are declining – the product of large-scale extraction. This decline is also relevant for the mountain gorillas living within Mount Elgon national park, who rely on bamboo as an important food source.
The sustainable management of bamboo forests is important for future generations, and for local biodiversity. In June, INBAR organized a training programme to create awareness about bamboo’s importance, as a source of food, fodder for livestock and value-added products.
The training workshop, which was arranged as part of the Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme, was targeted at local government officials, as well as community members of three districts of Uganda. Muyama Martha, Secretary of Production for Namsindwa district local government, stated that this training was “timely, and beneficial for the community”, who would learn how to make value-added products from bamboo. Wafula Hasim, of Bududa district local government, mentioned that in future, this training “will work towards mobilizing farmers to form agricultural marketing cooperatives for bamboos” – something which would strengthen the local bamboo sector.
In addition, the project will support communities to plant bamboo in homesteads and in farms, to reduce the pressure on natural forests, and as an additional source of income and livelihoods opportunities. The training follows previous workshops into the sustainable management and harvesting of bamboo poles, which was held for communities and farmers growing bamboo around the west Nile region.
The Dutch-Sino-East Africa Programme is an INBAR-led project which applies experiences from the hugely successful transformation of Asia and Europe’s bamboo market to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. For more news about the latest Dutch-Sino-East Africa Programme training, read here.
To find out more about bamboo’s potential for livelihoods creation and poverty eradication, please read here.