Bamboo's Role in Fighting Poverty
Updated: Sep 2
Bamboo is a renewable and highly versatile resource that can provide a range of employment opportunities that offer a pathway out of poverty. In fact, bamboo can be considered one of the most significant non-timber forest products in the world. The plant already plays a crucial part in the lives of millions across the tropics and sub-tropics where it grows. According to INBAR, production offers the opportunity for rural communities to engage in a growing sector worth around USD 60 billion each year. Here we consider how bamboo can help fight poverty.
1. Bamboo supports climate change mitigation
Bamboo can help fight poverty because it grows locally in some of the world’s poorest communities. This means the alternative fibre can contribute to combatting climate change in the developing world. So, bamboo can help communities adapt to the negative impacts of climate change by providing a sustainable, year-long source of income.
Bamboo is already a staple part of many people’s lives and livelihoods as a source of food, fibre and fuel. Therefore, the production of bamboo products creates value chains, ensuring direct income to rural communities that help manage bamboo forests. This means bamboo farms can create employment for thousands of families (and women) in developing countries. Furthermore, in contrast to timber, bamboo is harvested annually ensuring these jobs are secure and permanent.
2. Bamboo is a strategic resource
The many environmental advantages of bamboo can also make it a strategic resource that fights poverty. The plant can reduce erosion, restore degraded landscapes and reverse desertification hazards. Moreover, it can regenerate the most degraded soils within a brief period of time. This is because of its lengthy root systems, the capacity to grow on degraded soils and steep slopes, as well as its rapid growth. Additionally, the plant’s extensive root system helps bind soil, and its evergreen canopy leaves nutrients year-round, naturally fertilising. In turn, this restoration can benefit local communities, aligning financial performance with social development and environmental protection.
Forest resources are under strain due to climate change. In response, bamboo’s economic role is estimated to increase at an accelerated pace – both locally and in international trade. Leading providers of paper-based consumer products are seeking to reduce their forest fibre footprint over the next few years.
Jamaica will soon be home to such a flourishing industry that uses the rich abundance of bamboo plants as the chief raw material.