Bam­boo in­dus­try in­sid­ers call for greater pro­mo­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Business - MYAT NOE OO my­at­noeoo@mm­times.com – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing Khin Wyne Phyu Phyu

MYAN­MAR’S strug­gling bam­boo sec­tor re­quires a big boost in both tech­ni­cal sup­port and govern­ment pro­mo­tion if the fledg­ling in­dus­try is to one day for­malise and get off the ground, in­dus­try ex­perts say.

Speak­ing at a work­shop in Yan­gon on Septem­ber 18 to mark World Bam­boo Day, U Kyaw Thu, chair of the Rat­tan and Bam­boo En­trepreneurs As­so­ci­a­tion, said there is a lot of po­ten­tial for small busi­ness to emerge in the in­dus­try, as bam­boo of­fers a cheaper al­ter­na­tive for use in floor­ing, walls or en­tire homes than many hard­wood va­ri­eties. How­ever, lo­cal pro­duc­ers suf­fer from a lack of tech­ni­cal knowl­edge, while lit­tle govern­ment pro­mo­tion, means bam­boo is cut from forested ar­eas and not grown on an in­dus­trial scale, he said.

“Myan­mar peo­ple don’t have the knowl­edge to en­sure a healthy bam­boo in­dus­try and they also don’t un­der­stand the mar­ket,” he said. “Peo­ple are more in­ter­ested in tim­ber and other hard­wood, that they con­sider more valu­able than bam­boo, but bam­boo is cheaper than these prod­ucts,” he said.

In an ef­fort to dis­cour­age bam­boo cul­ti­va­tion in forested ar­eas, the govern­ment should en­cour­gae bam­boo farm­ing in spe­cific ar­eas on an in­dus­trial scale, as they do in parts of China, U Kyaw Thu said. More can be done to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of bam­boo to con­sumers, he added.

“If the govern­ment sup­ports grow­ing bam­boo in a spe­cific area, in one dis­trict, peo­ple will cul­ti­vate it and small to big in­dus­tries that pro­duce dif­fer­ent prod­ucts from bam­boo will also de­velop in this area,” he said. “If we use this model, there will be no waste prod­uct and we can also help con­trol de­for­esta­tion.”

Speak­ing on the con­fer­ence side­lines, U Nyi Nyi Kyaw, a di­rec­tor gen­eral at the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion, said bam­boo is be­ing con­sid­ered as part of the govern­ment’s pol­icy dis­cus­sions, but the de­tails are yet to be de­ter­mined.

“For mak­ing lo­cal prod­ucts, cur­rent prac­tices are okay, but for pro­duc­ing for ex­port we need greater tech­nol­ogy for a sus­tain­able in­dus­try that can achieve in­ter­na­tional stan­dards,” he said.

The in­dus­try is work­ing with the In­ter­na­tional Rat­tan and Bam­boo Net­work based in China to de­ter­mine how best to de­velop the sec­tor, U Nyi Nyi Kyaw said.

From cul­ti­va­tion to prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, the en­tire sup­ply chain needs sup­port, said U Thuta Aung, coun­try di­rec­tor of Busi­ness In­no­va­tion Fa­cil­ity, a UK-funded pro­gram de­signed to high­light prob­lems in par­tic­u­lar de­vel­op­ing mar­kets.

“If pro­duc­ers cul­ti­vate bam­boo, they can make prod­ucts with that bam­boo so they will have a greater un­der­stand­ing of the raw ma­te­rial, which will lead to greater-qual­ity prod­ucts,” he said. “But now they cut bam­boo from the for­est, so they don’t make good-qual­ity prod­ucts.”

For now, the mar­ket is still in its in­fancy, but as other in­dus­tries be­gin to grow, peo­ple want to know more about the dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als they have avail­able to them, said a sales­per­son from Asia Green Gold com­pany.

“Right now our main fo­cus is on floors, but re­cently we have started to make bam­boo cup­boards, chairs and other fur­ni­ture prod­ucts,” he said.

‘Myan­mar peo­ple don’t have the knowl­edge to en­sure a healthy bam­boo in­dus­try.’

U Kyaw Thu Bam­boo En­trepreneurs As­so­ci­a­tion

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