From humble beginnings, Shiribwa’s farm is now involved in projects for reforesting water catchment areas in Kenya’s Cherangany region. In 2013, he got involved in a project to raise 200,000 seedlings which were used to plug the gaps in the forested areas of Cherangany. The price is attractive, sometimes averaging $3 per seedling, proving bamboo to be green gold to the farmer as well as a way of providing much needed employment to locals.
Shiribwa’s county government took note of his initiative and sponsored him to visit China to learn more about the usage of bamboo. He visited the Yunnan Bamboo Nursery in Kunming of southwest China’s Yunnan Province and found that among other uses, Chinese eat the bamboo shoots, but more importantly he learned that bamboo could be made into other products, rather than just selling it raw. The International Network of Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) figures show in China the bamboo industry employs nearly 8 million people, a number that is expected to hit 10 million by 2020.
“I have lived to learn that it makes lots of financial sense to add value to bamboo. It is a plant that is useful from the roots to the shoots. Every part is important,” he told Chinafrica.
Shiribwa said his initial investment was used in trying to improve on the uses of bamboo. “But we are not yet there. We still need support to expand.”
He found that after drying and pest treatment bamboo makes good fencing material and the wood is also useful in making decorations. A set of door ornaments can cost up to $30 and a clothes rack $20. The workers at Shiribwa’s farm workshop also craft