The Association of Bamboo Growers in the Assin South District of the Central Region has appealed to the Forestry Commission to check the indiscriminate harvesting and trading in bamboo and rattan in the District.

That it said would help forestall the depletion of bamboo and rattan plantations in the area.

Mr Nathaniel Asamoah, the Chairman of the Association, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said dealers in wood had diverted attention to the few bamboo and rattan plantations left in the area, after virtually depleting the timber forests.

He said some members of the Association had, on several occasions, spotted articulated trucks fully loaded with bamboo being transported to Accra, Kumasi or Takoradi.

However, the Association lacked the legal authority to control and check the indiscriminate felling of the tree and suggested that bamboo and rattan be placed under the Timber Resources Management Laws to check their dissipation through the unscrupulous dealers.

Mr Asamoah said, the bamboo tree held the key to checking soil erosion, protection of water bodies, wildlife and the environment.

The health benefits of the leaves, in particular, could not be overemphasised, he said, adding that it helped to maintain healthy skin, prevented Alzheimer’s disease and detoxification, reduced high blood pressure, supported nail and hair growth, wounds healing and relieved menstrual pain.

Mr Asamoah encouraged farmers to take Keen interest in bamboo cultivation as a lucrative venture for job creation and provision of industrial raw material.

“The cultivation of bamboo required little capital injection and less tedious, therefore, we encourage all to get involved for mutual gain,” he said.

About Ghana’s bamboo

Ghana’s bamboo is predominately distributed in the wild along the southern parts of the country. The harvesting and use of bamboo culms for furniture production and scaffolds for construction is a common sight in the country. In some rural fishing communities, bamboo culms are put together and used as rafts during fishing.

The growing demand for bamboo culms for various uses in the country has created viable business opportunities for harvesters and smallholder bamboo farm owners along the value chain.

Bamboo stands not managed

Unfortunately, most bamboo stands found in the wild are not managed and the approach applied by harvesters in extracting the resource, degrades and lowers the regenerating rate of new bamboo shoots. This situation is partly due to inadequate knowledge on sustainable bamboo harvesting and management on the part of harvesters. In some cases, both young and matured bamboo culms are harvested together resulting in the destruction of many bamboo clumps.

The good news

To ensure sustainable management and continuous bamboo resource availability, the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) West Africa Regional Office in Ghana has started a technical training series for bamboo harvesters in rural communities on proper harvesting methods in the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions of Ghana. The training is part of activities under the Inter-Africa Bamboo Smallholder Farmers Livelihood Development Programme supported by IFAD and is expected to reach about 1000 bamboo harvesters within bamboo hotspot communities in Ghana.

So far, 85 bamboo harvesters and bamboo farm owners have received training on identification of matured bamboo culms, sustainable harvesting techniques, bamboo stand management, Bamboo storage and safe transportation and formation of bamboo harvesters’ cooperatives.