By Weswa Ronnie
The National Forestry Authority [NFA] has embarked on sensitizing district leaders neighboring Mount Elgon about the value of planting bamboo trees.
Leaders who were sensitized are from districts of Bududa, Namisindwa, Bulambuli, and Kapchorwa.
While speaking to different district leaders and stakeholders at Pretoria hotel located at Malukhu in Mbale city during Eastern Bamboo multi stakeholders Forum Workshop yesterday, 8th December, 2022, Frank Mukalazi, the Plantation Development Officer at [NFA] said they want to impart district leaders with knowledge about importance of planting bamboo such that they can encourage people living along Mt Elgon slopes from their respective districts to plant.
He added that the government has discovered that bamboo is one of the plants which have fibrous roots good at holding soils intact which people especially living in disaster prone areas are not aware of.
Mr. Mukalazi said ‘’ if people embrace this program of planting bamboo like other trees at homes and alongside river banks, they will prevent soil erosion, floods and landslides which are common in Bugisu during to rainy seasons.’’
The plantation development officer said district leaders are going to form committees at district level which will pass the message to farmers at grass root level before distributing to them free bamboo seedlings for planting.
Stella Watemba, the Namisindwa district environmental officer says that bamboo has many uses like making furniture, drinks, baskets, carpets among others which some people are not aware of.
‘’Besides protecting soils, youths can be employed if they are skilled to make materials and crafts out of bamboo since they are in high demand in both domestic and international markets,’’ Madam Watsemba said.
Joseph Wafutu, the chairperson of Bamasaba bamboo artisans and crafts association says that most people from Bugisu are ignorant about the use of bamboo apart from eating it as sauce locally known as Malewa.
He added that with his other fellow members, they decided to create the association known as Bamasaba bamboo artisans and crafts association in 2000 and they started making crafts out of these bamboo.
He however noted that they faced challenges of getting market for their products and lacking enough raw material since people are few who have planted bamboo and UWA staff can’t allow them to get bamboo shoots from Mt Elgon national park.
‘’ I urged the government to get a market for their bamboo products such that they can produce more and employ youths since they have skills,’’ Mr Wafula said.
Innocent Wadabwa, the Bulambuli district environmental officer also urged the government to ban people from planting eucalyptus trees since they are not friendly to the environment and instead encourage them to start planting bamboo because they are of high value.
Jackson Wakwaika, the LCV chairperson of Namisindwa district has urged youths to embrace the program saying the project will protect the environment, fight unemployment problems and will boost household income if young people plant bamboo and start making products out of them.