Frequently Asked Questions about Bamboo for Africa

1) Invasiveness

This is a clumping bamboo, which means that although the clump can expand up to 5m in diameter over a period of 50 years, it does not send out underground shoots that pop out of the ground in unexpected places. As it does not have viable seeds, it cannot invade any area.

2) Water requirement

The plant species is a dry savannah specie and grows well in areas with rainfall as low as 600mm without irrigation. Planting this species in wet or water logged areas is not advisable. Water is important during shooting season in the summer months. Total water requirement is 5000 l per year per clump. There are recoded plants growing as low as 250mm rainfall per annum, but that is the exception rather than the norm.

3) Soil requirement

It does best in well drained soils with a PH between 4 and 7. Wet clay soils results in stunted growth and low culm production.

4) Climatic conditions

The plant species grows well in temperatures between 20 ºC and 40ºC. It can withstand black frost temperatures as low as – 5 ºC without dying.

5) Why use bamboo as a carbon off-set

It has a lifespan in excess of 100 years. Unlike trees, the bamboo not only has green leaves but also a green stem which means increased photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. A single bamboo clump at 3 years old can sequester as much as 950Kg CO2. This is the highest rate for any soil grown plant.

6) How do communities benefit

The bamboo provides high protein feed for the goats and cattle kept by the communities. The bamboo provides a fuel for cooking and heating instead of coal or cutting of indigenous trees. As a fast growing biomass source it opens up the opportunity for value added manufacture which offers a direct enterprise opportunity as an out-grower or participant in the manufacturing process.

7) Rat infestations

The reason why India and China experience rat infestation is that in that country several bamboo species flower en mass and produce thousands of tons of seed. This provides a huge food source for the rats which results in mass breeding. The problem that follows the mass flowering is that all the bamboo clumps that flowered die within 12 – 24 months. This results in a huge shortage of bamboo shoots for eating.

8) Can we buy plants

FTFA is selling individual plants. Plant purchases are structured as follows for the planting programs:

  • FTFA’s carbon projects as off-sets or donations to the less privileged.
  • Community Enterprise Development multi-crop planting programs.
  • Individuals may also purchase plants directly.

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