Early Performance Trial of four introduced bamboo species in South-West Ethiopia


Bamboo is one of fascinating useful plant in the world. Bamboo is a  giant grass and perennial , woody-stemmed grass known for its rapid growth  and variety of uses.  It has woody  and usually hollow culms  with distinct nodes and internodes , rhizomes  and branches. Bamboo has spurred worldwide attention as a versatile plant with multifarious uses. Its uses ranged from subsistence to commercial food (young shoots), to building and furniture. It offers vital economic and ecological benefits to many people in the world. Bamboo is a group of most useful and fastest growing woody plant with growth rate ranging from 30 – 100 centimeter in growing seasons.

Bamboo protects the environment and cleanse the air we breathe. Bamboo stands release 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees. Some bamboo can sequester up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare. It can also lower light intensity and protects man against ultraviolet rays. Bamboo is a good  soil conservation plant. With its widespread root system, it can provide an effective erosion control. It sustains riverbanks and serves as good windbreaks.

Bamboo is a highly renewable material. There is no need to replant once the clump is already established.  It produces new shoots on an annual basis that develop depending on species, into erect culms reaching 30 m tall. Bamboo is a good substitute for wood. A bamboo culm matures and develops strength properties comparable to most wood species in  about three years. Its utility has expanded to include its transformation into various structural  floors and panels and engineered bamboo products.

Bamboo shoots are good food source. It is an important vegetable in the daily meals of many people in Asia and is considered  a gourmet item in Western countries where they are available only as imports.

Bamboo is an exquisite  component of landscape designs. It  provides natural look and aesthetic beauty  to the landscape. Many species of bamboo are good for landscaping and urban greening.

There are about 1500 bamboo species in the world. Africa alone has 43 species (Kigomo, 1993). Ethiopia has narrow genetic diversity in this resource, it has only two species: Arundinaria alpina and Oxytenantera abyssinica. According to the literature reviewed and field observations undertaken, Ethiopia had only the two indigenous bamboo species and no exotics at all.

About 130,000 ha of Arundinaria alpina and about 850, 000 ha of Oxytenanthera abyssinica are found scattered in the south, south-west and central parts of Ethiopia. Altitudinal range of the two aforementioned species is 2400- 3500 masl and 500-1800 masl, respectively. However, in between 1800 – 2400 masl, there were no native or exotic bamboo species in the country. They were in more or less pure, fully stocked natural forest conditions and they are being cleared at an accelerating rate for agricultural land expansion, burned to promote more tender grass growth for grazing, and to drive out or kill allegedly harmful insects. Large-scale coffee and tea plantations and urban expansion are also emerging as real and potential threats.

The bamboo resource in natural habitats is dwindling, due to over-exploitation, gregarious flowering, shifting cultivation and extensive forest fires. Sustained availability and utilisation can be ensured by proactive bamboo cultivation. In addition broadening of the genetic base of the resource is indispensable, to reduce disruption in supply caused by flowering. These all requires introduction of different potential species from other parts of the world and evaluation of their growth performance in different agro climatic zones of the country. The main objectives So that, the over objective of this investigation were to evaluate the growth performance of those species introduced from Asia and Latin America.

Dendrocalamus hamiltonii showed better growth performance than others in culm height (10.58 m), diameter of culm and root collar diameter 3.4, 4.3 cm respectively, number of nods (18), inter node length (28.33 cm) and crown diameter (4.33 m). For number of culms and usable culm yield against time Bambusa vulgaris variety green was the highest (66 and 39), respectively. Whereas Guadua amplexifolia has showed the lowest performance among the other species for all growth development parameters except grown diameter (3.35+0.17 cm).

The growth and productivity of any species depends on several environmental factors but altitude along with some other factors viz., aspect, soil type, topography etc might be some major factors controlling the growth and productivity of the same species in different sites. Our studies were conducted on the same site so, growth performances of the species also depends on the species itself. So that, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii is highly recommended for Ethiopia particularly at Jimma zone followed by Dendrocalamus membranaceus and similar agro ecological sites according to this study. Field evaluations made with farmers and DA’s and experts also showed that Bambusa vulgaris is a recommendable species for scaling-up.

Strengthen research on utilization of these specie should be required. Farmers are more interested to expand this three species of bamboo and improve their livelihood, protect the environment and create sustainable forest management.

Blogpost and picture submitted by Asabeneh Alemayehu Munuyee (Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute -EEFRI, Jimma agricultural research center -JARC, Ethiopia) – alemayehuasabeneh(at)yahoo.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

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4 thoughts on “Early Performance Trial of four introduced bamboo species in South-West Ethiopia

  1. Thank you for reporting on bamboo in Ethiopia! With an area of 1million hectares of bamboo to start with there are real opportunities for socio-economic and environmental development .


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