Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo has commended Feed the Future’s Agriculture Diversification (AgDiv), saying it will help alleviate some of the country’s environmental challenges through its giant bamboo project.
Through the project, which is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid), Feed the Future has distributed bamboos to 35 000 households nationwide.
Tembo made the remarks when she visited Lisoka Farm in Mchinji where thousands of bamboos were planted.
She said: “We must provide training opportunities for communities to grow and manage their own bamboo plantations and this should include training on value addition, using bamboo to produce different products, including furniture as is done in Asian countries like China and Japan.
“As our population continues to increase and urbanisation grows, there is a need to provide more sustainable sources of energy for homestead cooking, to replace illegal charcoal. Bamboo charcoal is an option, and I am very much encouraged to see that it is possible to grow bamboo locally on such a large scale.”
The bamboo could be used for charcoal production, watershed management, soil erosion control and construction of tobacco sheds. It is regarded as a resilient plant which could be used to reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change effects.
Tembo said bamboo cultivation is in line with the ministry’s plan through the National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy and the National Charcoal Strategy.
“The two strategies have identified bamboo as the quickest and most effective crop to be used to address challenges of landscape degradation and energy security for the country,” she said.
In her remarks, AgDiv resilience coordinator Akshan Omar said about 500 000 seedlings have so far been distributed nationwide.
She said: “The bamboo is being promoted at household level for water treatment and as an alternative to fuel wood and at a landscape level to combat land degradation and deforestation.”
The giant bamboo takes about seven years to fully mature and can help farmers for about 60 years as it regenerates when cut.