Why grow bamboo?

When I went to Taiwan in 1963 a new report of the Joint Commission for Rural Reconstruction there had just brought out a report which stated that they had found that land which was very poor, very steep or eroding should be planted as bamboo forest. As it was at that time a dictatorship land in such a classification had to be planted to bamboo forest. So there were many areas of bamboo forest. It is always cool in a bamboo forest and it was noted that as there was more forest there was more mist and rain in the area. Once rain fell it would be cooler and so clouds passing over were even more likely to drop their moisture.

One of the things I noticed when I went to Nepal in 1980 was that areas which in Taiwan would be bamboo forest, such as poor land, very steep land, landslides and landslide prone land, etc., was bare. What bamboo was grown was mainly clump bamboo, I felt it would be good to try bamboo forest. Everyone I asked said it was a stupid idea, Nepal was not Taiwan, except for one Australian forester who thought it was worth a try.

I did not know how to propagate bamboo so started trying different methods. We planted 27 species below the Mission hospital at Tansen on land which was very poor bare and eroding land. We used occasionally irrigated and dry area for each species and different ways of propagation and had a tour path with labels describing the species and propagating method. A German forester working for SATA in Tansen became interested and arranged for us to have trials at Humin de gerra forest area. Where we planted bamboo in different locations and methods and planted a landslide. The landslide was stabilised and two families in the area whose houses were threatened by landslides below them asked us to plant the landslides. About four years later they told me that they were very happy. The land was now stable and they had already been selling poles at up to 100 rupees (about 3 days wage) each.

When my work was just taking off in many ways, with vegetable, soil conservation, bamboo and fruit tree training I was told that I could no longer have a visa to work in Nepal. Before I left I wrote “Bamboo a valuable crop for the hills”. After I came home I did more research and wrote a more detailed book “Bamboo: A Valuable Multi-purpose Crop” for more general use than Nepal.

While in Nepal I tried to encourage the growing of Bamboo for soil conservation but also as a crop for paper making and plywood making. The paper mill at Narayanghat could be converted from straw which makes poor paper and should be kept to incorporate into the soil and replaced with Bamboo which makes good quality paper. I am glad that bamboo is now more appreciated in Nepal, more bamboo is being grown and plywood and chip board is being made.

Back to "Bamboo: A Valuable Multi-purpose Crop".