Uganda Positions Itself to Reap from Bamboo Boom

By our Reporter.

The Uganda Industrial Research Institute- UIRI is considering several innovations to increase the commercial use of bamboo. Dubbed, the wonder plant, the evergreen perennial flowering plant is believed to be the strongest fastest-growing wood plant on earth.

The previously unusable species have seen dramatic growth in its demand as innovators discover a variety of products that can be made out of bamboo, away from the furniture, mats, baskets and chopsticks.

Today, bamboo is used to make flour panels, which appear with a texture of marble blended with the elegance of wood and is increasingly becoming a raw material for building panels, high-quality yarn and fabrics, bicycle-frames, steering wheels, motor vehicle dashboards, newsprint, cardboard and toilet tissue.

Bamboo stems have also been used to make phone cases, keyboards, headphones, speakers, laptops, bathtubs, steamers, musical instruments and helmets, among others. In some parts of the world, bamboo leaves are used as ingredients for medicines, beverages and cosmetics.

Researchers say that Bamboo’s appearance, strength and hardness, as well as its rapid growth cycle and capacity for sustainable harvesting have made it the most sought after a substitute for wood. Bamboo products are also known to be smooth, clean, non-sliding and resistant to humidity.

For more than 15 years, the Uganda Industrial Research Institute has been exploring opportunities for value addition to the widely available, yet untapped product. The Institute is mandated with the transformation of raw materials to income-generating products.

Dr Dick Kamugasha, the institute’s Deputy Executive Director says that they undertook a long but steady path of understanding bamboo, after twinning with the China Bamboo Research Center, to inform the development of a variety of products for the Ugandan Market.

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