Bamboo is a member of the grass family Poaceae, through links with the flowering perennial evergreen. Their anatomical makeup is that of a hollow centre with cross sections of vascular bundles rather than a typical cylindrical arrangement. It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and is popular within industrial and medical applications.
It is a commodity that can be harvested yearly, following an initial growth period of six years and is able to be grown on land which has been over-grazed, even acting as a ‘healing’ grass. When harvested above ground there is guaranteed to be no soil contamination, no pesticide residue, no seed contamination and no weed contamination. Typically, a harvest of over 250 tonnes per hectare can be expected.
With peaked interest in environmentally friendly and sustainable practices over recent years, bamboo has been determined as a great alternative for wood and fibre. Hence, it has become an increasingly important industry as with continued global development.
Sustainable bamboo plantations provide direct employment for rural and forest dependent people both within the plantations themselves, and within processing facilities. Out-grower schemes provide additional potential for economic diversification. Bamboo charcoal is traditionally used as a substitute for wood charcoal or mineral coal. It can serve as a fuel, absorbent and conductor. The calorific value of bamboo charcoal is almost half that of oil of the same weight. Activated bamboo charcoal can be used for cleaning the environment, absorbing excess moisture and producing medicines. The absorption capacity of bamboo charcoal is six times that of wood charcoal of the same weight. Bamboo charcoal can be used as an air purifier and for other antipollution purposes.
Over 2.5 billion people in the world depend economically on bamboo and the international trade in bamboo amounts to between $5 and $10 billion. US and Europe are the main markets for bamboo products, taking around 80% of world trade. These figures do not take into account local and in-country consumption.
LEMCO projects harness the current and future potential of bamboo as a commercial commodity