Wednesday, 21 October 2015


 A joint study by the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), and CIFOR has examined the impacts of national policy changes on the bamboo sector in Anji County, Zhejiang Province, where bamboo has a long tradition and is important in the local economy. The purpose was to investigate the potential contribution of bamboo cultivation, harvesting and processing to rural development, given an appropriate policy and economic environment. The project has compiled general county-level information and details on 200 households and dozens of industries.

Preliminary analysis shows that a series of policy changes have cleared the main bottlenecks in the sector, providing the incentives and opportunities to intensify production of raw material with little increase in land area, and to diversify production towards increased shoot output. Because the changes were implemented gradually, and frequently tested on a small scale, major disruptions have been avoided. Success and a smooth transition have been facilitated by a sequence that has moved initially from reforming the production of raw material to subsequent changes in marketing, processing and foreign trade. The bamboo sector is currently experiencing a big expansion in China to meet the demand of both its huge internal market and increasing exports. The next stage in the research will try to characterise different situations by selecting important bamboo production counties rangingfrom the more developed Zhejiang in the east to the central province of Hunan, to the western, less-developed province of Sichuan. The general situation in the counties is characterized by an unmet demand for raw bamboo resources from different processing industries, leading to intensification and, wherever possible, expansion of bamboo plantations. The private management of bamboo under the "household responsibility system" is now well established and the industry is working under a basically market economy system, with some checks and balances from the State.

Each county displays special features related to the extension, type and intensity of bamboo management and, even more so, to the type of associated processing industry. Daoming township (Sichuan province) produces bamboo mainly for labor-intensive handicrafts. It is grown mostly around farmers' houses. In Muchuan (Sichuan province), severely degraded slopes have been recovered by planting bamboo and the product is mainly used for pulp and paper. Bamboo areahas increased 400 percent in 15 years. Policies to encourage intensification, coupled with long-term contracts under the household responsibility system, have promoted the planting of bamboo in place of Chinese fir in Taojiang county (Hunan province). One of the areas with the highest income from bamboo is Linan county (Zhejiang province) which specialises in bamboo shoot production. Average yearly household income from bamboo shoots, in villages specialising in bamboo shoots, amounts to US$2,500, with some above US$10,000. By examining the situations in each of these counties, the project seeks to characterize the favorable conditions which improve the livelihoods of the Chinese bamboo farmers and expand the possibilities for their bamboo production.

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

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