Brilliant future for vietnam bamboo industry – chances and challenges at Vifa Expo 2017
Depending on growing global bamboo industry (include products and materials) at 60 billion USD (CNN), thats the reason we believe there is a brilliant future for vietnam bamboo industry in year 2017.
Bamboo is as hard as oak. The giant grass is one of the fastest growing crops. Hardy, there are about 1,250 species. Strong, its roots bind the soil together and prevent erosion. Versatile, it has more than 1,500 different uses. Indigenous to many developing countries, the woody stems can help curb the overexploitation of tropical forests and can help create a better livelihood for millions of people.
Oxfam Hong Kong is working to develop the potential of bamboo in the Mekong countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, where some 22 million people live in dire poverty and 20 to 30 million others live just above the poverty line. Poverty is worst in the remote uplands, where community facilities are normally substandard, education limited, roads impassable, and market infrastructure weak, yet, on a more positive note, also has a landscape and climate where bamboo typically grows well.
brilliant future for vietnam bamboo industry overview
Bamboo is already good business. Globally, the industry stands at around USD 7 billion, but by 2017, the sector could reach USD 20 billion. China currently holds around 5.5 billion and Vietnam 0.25 billion, but Vietnam and the Mekong region as a whole has the potential to increase its market share to USD 1 billion, with jobs for more than 1 million of some of the poorest people. Oxfam is helping to make it happen.
Bamboo chopsticks being made in a factory in Vietnam where thousands of chopsticks are made daily and exported to Japan
The days are gone when bamboo was primarily used for outdoor furniture and chopsticks. With the growing international demand for timber, bamboo is filling a niche. Bamboo has become an environmentally friendly source of wood and fibre substitutes, as well as a source of a new generation of flooring, panels, clothing, furniture and more.
Different parts of the plant are used for different products, such as the leaves for medicine, twigs for brooms, the top for scaffolding, mid and base parts for medium value products like blinds and woven mats, the bottom section for laminated flooring, shoots for vegetable, waste parts for charcoal, and various parts for handicrafts. Too often, the whole trunk is used for paper and other low value products, when it could be used for higher value goods, too.
Each of the three main bamboo sub-sectors – industrial products, handicrafts and bamboo shoots – also has different poverty impact potential, market opportunities, and supply chain structures. Industrial products, including everything from paper to blinds, chopsticks, construction panels and flooring, consume significant amounts of bamboo and this demand for high volume has been driving farmer income. Handicrafts create jobs in the supply chain rather than farmer income; there are already 350,000 jobs in the Mekong and the sub-sector creates opportunities for women. Bamboo shoots can be a high value crop for farmers at certain times of the year, yet creates relatively fewer jobs in the supply chain.
Working with the Mekong Private Sector Development Facility (MPDF) and other groups in Vietnam, and International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and other leading farming and business associations in China, Oxfam Hong Kong is creating a demonstration bamboo industry area in Thanh Hoa Province in Vietnam. This includes working with farmers, businesses and the authorities to develop an appropriate supply chain structure to maximise efficiency and value and move towards the ‘New Industry Mix’. We see the current ‘direct supply model’ used in Mekong countries as generally inefficient, with little or no pre-processing near the source. Therefore, we are working to increase the numbers of locally owned pre-processing workshops to create more jobs, yield more income, improve the efficiency of the industry, and in the end, increase the Mekong’s competitiveness.
Already, the intervention across the whole supply chain is benefiting farmers, as Oxfam’s impact assessment studies have shown. In Thanh Hoa, the price for raw bamboo increased more than 20 per cent in 2006 alone. New jobs in the local pre-processing workshops – especially for women and ethnic minorities – are providing income of around USD450/year, well above the average of 100USD/year in the area. Farmers clear around USD200- 300/ha/year from growing bamboo for around 45 days of labour and zero cash inputs. In other places in Vietnam where demand is still not linked to farmers, raw bamboo traders will only pay farmers after supply (weeks after in some cases), yet in Thanh Hoa, traders are competing with each other and paying farmers, in full, one week before delivery.
In a survey of 36,000 families influenced by the Thanh Hoa project, income from vietnam bamboo industry rose from USD6.6 million in 2004 (when 61 per cent of population had bamboo income) to USD10.3 million in 2006 (70 per cent had bamboo income). In 2004, 68 per cent of people were below the poverty line, but the bamboo industry has had a dramatic effect: between 2004 and 2006, 1,700 poor households (5 per cent of total population) who had bamboo income moved across the poverty line. At the same time, households without any bamboo income had a net movement back into poverty, around 700 households (3 per cent of total population). With a net movement of around 2 per cent out of poverty, work with bamboo is clearly linked to leaving poverty in the project area for now.
Oxfam Hong Kong is very optimistic about the opportunities of the brilliant future for vietnam bamboo industry for poor people, and is now working with MPDF to establish a bamboo consortium for the region. We are supporting national and local government bodies to develop the sector by facilitating a widespread investment in the processing and marketing businesses , expanding bamboo production by small scale farmers, supporting critical markets such as finance, transferring expertise from China, and making linkages to large international buyers, wishing to source products from the region.
We see a vibrant, diversified, internationally competitive and pro-poor bamboo sector emerging in the region, which in ten years, would mean a life free of poverty for one million more people: a home without a leaky roof, an education for the children, rice to eat all year long….
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