International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

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Training Workshop on Sustainable Bamboo Development in Guyana comes to a close

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Training Workshop on Sustainable Bamboo Development in Guyana comes to a close

guyana closing ceremony

Participants of the training in Guyana show off their newly finished bamboo products.

A 15-day collaborative training between INBAR, China and Guyana points the way forward for using bamboo to stimulate sustainable development in Guyana.

Located in the northern region of South America, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is known for its lush rain forests and rich natural resources. The territory is home to over 40 species of bamboo, the vast majority of which remain unexploited. From 15 to 29 August, the Training Workshop on Sustainable Bamboo Development was convened by INBAR, China and Guyana to address this overlooked area, celebrating not only 50 years of friendship between China and Guyana but also equipping trainees with the knowledge and skills to carry forward the sustainable development of the country.

Both theoretical knowledge and practical skills were incorporated into the training curriculum. The theoretical portion of the training introduced bamboo species growing in Guyana, the development status of China’s bamboo industry, effective policies for bamboo development in China, lessons learned from the case of Anji County in Zhejiang Province, China, which fully utilizes bamboo biomass in bamboo cluster development, and overall guidelines for the sustainable management and utilization of bamboo resources. The practical portion of the training focused on identifying bamboo selection and harvesting criteria, basic bamboo-weaving techniques for crafts and other applications, introduction of tools and equipment used in bamboo weaving, detailing the steps for processing and preparation of bamboo strips, and the production of three simple woven bamboo products. The practical part was conducted both online by Chinese weaving masters and in person by Ecuadorian bamboo masters who had previously participated in a technical training workshop in Ecuador in 2019 hosted by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The training featured both online and on-site instruction.

Sixty participants joined the training online, while 30 participants joined both on and offline. Participants were selected from each of the 10 regions of Guyana, particularly selecting for representatives from indigenous tribes.

Dr. Fei Benhua’s presentation on the Chinese bamboo industry and Prof. Lu Wenming’s introduction to China’s policies on bamboo development helped elucidate the great potential of bamboo development in rural development and for conservation of the local ecology. It was noted the lack of relevant technologies and an enabling policy environment for supporting the growth of the bamboo industry in Guyana. Follow-up Q&A sessions featured vigorous participation, with discussion mainly centered around how to develop the industry in a context that lacks a solid foundation for growth. Participants were excited to learn from the two experts that entry-level technologies and policy models are available and can be shared with Guyana to meet needs.

Through Dr. Ximena Londono’s detailed presentation, participants learned about not only the indigenous bamboo resources of Guyana but also where they could be located. She also introduced the traditional utilization of bamboo by local ethnic people. This presentation instilled in every participant the knowledge and confidence that their country is home to rich bamboo biodiversity, some key species of which are suitable for adding value in development projects. Yet, there is still a real need for assistance in conducting relevant research and launching pilot projects.

Prof. Yang Yuming introduced the morphological features of tropical sympodial bamboo species, and spoke extensively about commercially viable sympodial species in the tropics. He also explained specific cultivation and management technologies to the participants.

Prof. Wang Lei introduced the main experiences and lessons learned from the case study of Anji County, Zhejiang Province, China. The area’s bamboo supply-chain development serves as a growth model for startup regions

Participants learned basic bamboo basket-weaving techniques.

engaging in bamboo development. Participants were surprised at Anji’s achievements and curious about its role in China’s national bamboo industry. Some participants were particularly interested in the bamboo shoot processing industry and expressed a willingness to learn more.

The hands-on portion of the training included a 3-day online session and a 10-day offline session. Master Chen Yunhua gave two presentations covering bamboo woven handicrafts and their applications in modern life. He also meticulously taught basic bamboo woven techniques. His presentations include slide shows and a virtual tour of his museum.

At the end of the training, participants were ultimately pleased with the final results. Trainees prepared an exhibition of their final woven bamboo products, which were showcased at the closing ceremony. All trainees received a certificate at the conclusion of the ceremony. Afterward, stakeholders commented on the resounding success of the collaborative event.

Maleka Russel, a student from a local university had this to say:

I am from Kwakwani, an indigenous community in Guyana. We do a lot of work with different materials, but bamboo is something new to us. It is something that we are hoping to work more with. Thank you so much for the training. I’ve learned so, so much. I am so happy you helped us make beautiful bamboo woven products so we can make more money in the future. We hope to have more training with you, and hope to become a master one day just like you.

Debbie Argyle, another local participant, remarked that:

I am Debbie Argyle from Region Four. I am from the Mahaica Women School. The reason why I attended this class is to gain more knowledge because I am a craft teacher as well. You know, we try to catch up with the crafts taught here so that we can impart the knowledge to other women. I am very grateful and thankful for this bamboo craft that you have taught us. On behalf of the group, I say thank you very much for teaching us this bamboo craft today.

VIPs at the event also shared inspiring words. H.E. Guo Haiyan, Ambassador of China to Guyana, expressed thanks to INBAR for support and to all masters for guidance throughout the training, further commenting that “bamboo weaving, housing and furniture all have great potential in this country. I’m looking forward to more cooperation with Guyana and INBAR to turn this possibility into reality and bring more benefits to the people.”

H.E. Ali Mchumo, Director General of INBAR, also shared a message of a bright future:

Participants have said they will transfer this knowledge and spread it out to their fellows back home. We trust they can do this because what we have seen participants do here truly is impressive and profound.

Bamboo’s use in country development can also address environmental degradation and climate change along with other uses. What you have been trained in is the production of items that could be valuable to poverty alleviation efforts that benefit local people in the country, especially for women and youth. We are really looking forward to what’s coming next.

He also discussed the potential role of local growers in a global initiative to substitute plastics for bamboo:

China is currently cooperating with INBAR to launch an initiative to replace plastics toward the end of the year —the Bamboo as a Substitute for Plastics Initiative. Plastics are a curse to the environment, but bamboo offers a nature-based solution to the problem. Bamboo producers in developing countries thus have a very good market for bamboo, and the initiative can help Guyana growers in the years ahead.

The closing ceremony was attended by H.E. Guo Haiyan, Ambassador of China to Guyana; Hon. Nigel Dharamlall, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development of Guyana; H.E. Ali Mchumo, Director General of INBAR; INBAR Deputy Director Prof. Lu Wenming; Pablo Jácome Estrella, Regional Director of Latin America and the Caribbean Office; and other luminaries.

From left to right: Prof. Lu, Deputy Director of INBAR; H.E. Ali Mchumo, Director of INBAR; Jin Wei, Capacity Building Manager of INBAR.

From left to right: Mr. Hu Hanming, Economic & Commercial Counselor of the Embassy; H.E. Guo Haiyan, Ambassador of China to Guyana; Hon. Nigel Dharamlall, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development of Guyana.

Learn more about the training from the Government of Guyana’s website here.

Watch video from Guyanese news coverage here.