20 January 2007
BAMBOO MARKET STUDY IN ETHIOPIA
Prepared for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Acting as executing agency for the Common Fund for Commodities
Based on the work of
Dr Berhanu Adenew, Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute, Ethiopia
In collaboration with
Dr Jochen Statz, UNIQUE forestry consultants, Freiburg, Germany
International Consultant – Bamboo Marketing
Table of content
Acknowledgment ........................................................................................................................................ iv
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms......................................................................................................... v
Executive summary ..................................................................................................................................... vi
1. INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................... 1
1.1. Bamboo Resources Bases in Ethiopia..........................................................................................1
1.2. Bamboo Resources Development and the National Economy .....................................................2
1.3. Development interventions and capacity building ........................................................................3
1.4. Rationale of the study: Value-chain analysis ...............................................................................5
1.4.1. Value-chain promotion for development...............................................................................5
1.4.2. “Production-to-Consumption” analysis and beyond ..........................................................7
1.4.3. Value-chain analysis: finding appropriate ways of upgrading .............................................7
1.4.4. “Governance” and “Upgrading”..................................................................................................9
2. OBJCETIVES, METHODS, AND SCOPE OF THE STUDY ............................................. 10
2.1. Objectives .......................................................................................................................................10
2.2. Methods of data collection ..........................................................................................................10
2.3. Scope and limitations ...................................................................................................................11
3. BAMBOO PRODUCTION, PROCESSING AND MARKETING: CASE STUDIES ... 12
3.1. Ethiopian Tourist Trading Enterprise (ETTE)............................................................................12
3.1.1. Sourcing / Procurement ...........................................................................................................12
3.1.3. Sales ........................................................................................................................................13
3.1.4. Outlook: Where they you stand in three years from now? ...............................................15
3.2. Roadside Bamboo Furniture Makers in Addis Ababa ....................................................................15
3.2.1. Sourcing / Procurement ...............................................................................................................16
3.2.3. Selling .............................................................................................................................................18
3.2.4. Outlook: Where will they stand in three years from now? ..................................................18
3.3. Road-side Bamboo Yards/ Traders at Shola Poultry Market ........................................................19
3.3.1. Sourcing of Bamboo.....................................................................................................................19
3.3.4. Outlook: where will they stand in three years from now.....................................................20
3.4. The Hagereselam User Group in SNNPR .........................................................................................21
3.4.1. Cultivation of Bamboo ................................................................................................................22
3.4.2. Local Bamboo Processing............................................................................................................23
3.4.3. Selling .............................................................................................................................................24
3.4.4. Outlook: Where will they stand in three years from now? ..................................................27
3.5. Enjibara User group in Amhara Region..........................................................................................27
3.5.1. Cultivation of Bamboo ................................................................................................................28
3.5.2. Local Bamboo Processing............................................................................................................29
3.6. Road side bamboo processors and traders in Bahir Dar ..............................................................34
3.7. Bamboo Management: opinions of Experts at the Regional and Woreda BOARD ................35
3.8. Research in Bamboo Utilization: the Activities of a Wood utilisation Research Centre ............37
3.8.1. Mandates and activities...............................................................................................................37
3.8.2. Outlook: Where will WURC stand in three years from now ...............................................40
4. VALUE ADDED IN THE BMABOO SECTOR IN ETHIOPIA ............................................ 41
5. STRUCTURAL WEAKNESSES AND POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AND USES OF
BAMBOO SECTOR .......................................................................................................................... 42
5.1. Weaknesses ...........................................................................................................................................42
6 DEVELOPMENT PATH FOR BAMBOO SECTOR IN ETHIOPIA ................................ 45
6.1. Focus on domestic markets: import substitution rather than world market penetration..........45
6.2. Middlemen and cooperative marketing at local level .....................................................................46
6.3. Improved marketing of bamboo: displays, showrooms, brand ambassadors ......................46
6.4. Exploring potential applications of bamboo.....................................................................................46
7. SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION ............................................ 50
7.1. Summary and conclusions...........................................................................................................50
7.2. Recommendations: ..............................................................................................................................56
Utmost thanks and appreciation goes to UNIDO for financial support to implement this important
study. This research activity also got the necessary assistance form Ato Malaku Tadesse, the National
Bamboo Project Coordinator at the MOARD. For this he deserves lost of appreciation. Many experts
and workers in various organizations and institutions who shared their long expertise in the bamboo and
related sectors, members of the farming community in Hagereselam and Enjibara study areas, private
bamboo entrepreneurs both in urban and rural settings, managers of the modern bamboo investment
groups are highly appreciated for taking their precious time and giving their opinion and information
needed for this study. Without their active support this study would not have been realized. Effectively
facilitation of the logistics required for the field work during this study is due to W/o Seble and Ato
Bruck, project office support staff. Both deserve special thanks.
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
CFC Common Fund for Commodities
EFAP Ethiopian Forestry Action Plan
ETTE Ethiopian Tourist Trade Enterprise
FeMSEDA Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency
FGD Focus group discussion
GTZ German Technical Cooperation
IC International Consultant for Bamboo Marketing
INBAR International Network for Bamboo and Rattan
JICA Japanese International Cooperation Agency
MoARD Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ethiopia
MoTI Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ethiopia
NPSC National Project Steering Committee
PCS Production to Consumption System
ReMSEDA Regional Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency
SNNPR Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
WURC Wood Utilisation Research Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The broad objectives of this study are to analyze the market situation of bamboo in Ethiopia and to identify
options for the development of bamboo sector. Data ad information was collected from a wide rage of
stakeholders in the sector including the government agencies involved i training ad capacity building.
Marketing of the bamboo products is very traditional and at low level of development. Marketing activities are
taking place by different entities including the ETTE shops, FEMSEAD and other small private enterprises in
Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Awassa and the rural bamboo producing areas. The market system is not broad based
and integrated over geographic locations, sales points and customers, etc. In the regions, the local community
members produce bamboo handicrafts and sell the products either by themselves or sell to local traders who
take the products to the next nearby markets. The local products are largely traditional and consumed by the
communities themselves for their regular agricultural and home activities. Few products are taken to distant
markets. For instance bamboo mats are taken to coffee growing regions (for coffee drying).
The existing bamboo based cottages are largely informal manufacturing with informal markets: baskets and
simple furniture. The emerging bamboo cottages in the major cities, particularly in Addis Ababa, are of two
board categories. A relatively modern segment is being organized by small workshops. Mostly, the
owners/workers have been exposed to some skill training. Their designs are relatively modest and seem to be
evolving including products for higher income groups and foreign visitors. Example, they produce high priced
and attractive bamboo sofa, bed, lampshades. Such small enterprises are mainly found in Addis Ababa. The
other group comprises of small handicrafts workshops owned by mostly migrants from the bamboo producing
rural communities. They get raw materials form rural areas by themselves or through other collectors. They
are engaged in production of low quality products mostly furniture, household items and others. They aim at
low income consumers. As raw material quality observations, drying and preservation are not much
considered in such handcrafts works, the quality of products and their durability is mostly low. The producers
sell their products on the road ad moving from place to place. The two groups do not compete with each other
as they deal with different market segments.
In recent years, government enterprises (the Ethiopian Tourist Trade Enterprise (ETTE) and Federal Medium
and Small Enterprises Development Agency, both in Addis Ababa) are doing a relatively better organized
processing and marketing of bamboo products. Even then they are still limited in quality improvement,
standardization of products and market promotion.
In Addis Ababa as well as other towns and rural bamboo producing areas “similar” bamboo products are sold
ate different prices at same market levels and locations. It implies that market information flow is very much
limited, the bamboo marketing system is largely informal, and less connected. This makes it difficult to
analyze the value-chains, price formation along marketing channels. In Addis Ababa itself, taking 35 types of
bamboo products produced by both the ETTE and REMSEDA workshops, on average there is a 10 birr price
difference of these ‘similar’ products between the two enterprises.
At the bamboo growing rural areas, the farmers have their own bamboo lots which they manage, propagate
and harvest. In both Hagereselam (SNNPR) and Enjibara (Amhara) communities, bamboo is an important part
of the farming systems and serves as a major source of livelihood. In Both study areas, there are lots of
traditional bamboo products which are produced and used within the communities. Farmers use the bamboo
resource as their bank account; bamboo provides a ready source of cash (to buy food in times of shortage or to
purchase inputs like fertilizer and meet their immediate cash needs). Some community members also produce
some products, using own family labour, and sell them at local markets and roadside sales points. The buyers
are travelers like car drivers who pass through the communities. There are also few products which are
‘exported’ outside the communities by local traders. Culturally, in the rural communities, the processing of
bamboo so far has been an occupation for men only, bamboo being believed to be a “hard” material that has to
be worked on by men.
Shortage of land and increasing pressure (caused by rising population) to convert the land into agricultural
land is seen by farmers as the biggest threat that bamboo cultivation is facing these days. Further more, the
informality of the bamboo trade is seen to have caused high fluctuations in prices and demand. There is no
license needed to collect raw bamboo and products.
The means of local transport for products is rudimentary. For instance, in Enjibara area, farmers are seen
carrying the bamboo products and travel 2 to 3 days to bring the products to the next markets. They rarely use
public transport or trucks as they think could be expensive and lower their profit. Although both study
communities have good road connections to the regional capitals and even to Addis Ababa, the value chain is
not yet connected to the extra-regional trade. Even the trade with the few bamboo products is only local.
The practice of grading raw materials is very weak and most basic. There is no standard developed and used.
There is a traditional preference of highland bamboo and low bamboo for different products. For instance, the
low land bamboo is preferred for making legs of chairs and sofas as it is has more strength. Some of the
aspects used in grading are: inter-node length of culm, thickness of culm, age of culm showing maturity. Lack
of standard or grades means there is a difficulty of comparing raw materials and products for quality and
From the consumers’ side, the use of bamboo products is much less known outside the bamboo producing
areas. Bamboo still has the stigma of being a poor man’s timber; even those who are aware of the virtues and
beauties of bamboo admit that they do not have bamboo furniture themselves, but would rather go for the
conventional products with “modern” designs. Most people do not consider bamboo furniture as a durable
product. Hence, the demand is hindered by such consumer behavior partly due to lack of adequate information
on the potential quality and durability of the products. The few high priced furniture products are
predominantly bought by foreigners. Experts have the opinion that although, following the emergence of a
middle class in urban areas like Addis Ababa, micro- enterprises of bamboo processing, mostly at the
household level are emerging, it needs a strong promotion and introduction of the bamboo products.
Most of the bamboo used for the cottage industries is the „farmers‘ bamboo“. Sales of raw bamboo by farmers
is highly individualised. As bamboo is seen as an “occasional commodity” no formalised supply system
exists. It can be said that ssourcing at the current (low) level is not a major problem for the informal/cottage
industries. Sourcing is done either straight from producers or through specialized timber yards in town. One of
the problems of supply is said to be the inability of farmers to supply quality raw material.
There are no bamboo traders (yards) nearby the bamboo growing areas (e.g. in Awassa and Bahir Dar town).
Rather there are some in Addis Ababa. It shows that the supply channel is very much localized and confined.
According to some bamboo yard owners, there used to be around 20 bamboo yards in Addis Ababa some 5-10
years ago, but many of them had to close down because of rising costs for transport, which increased by more
than 50% the last few years. The bamboo yards in Addis Ababa are engaged in multiple activities of collecting
the raw bamboo from the growing areas, production of some low quality handicrafts, and retail and wholesale
of raw bamboo. For the bamboo yards, lack of good storage space is another problem. Bamboo supply is
seasonal. Between March and June no bamboo is cut, because bamboo is sprouting at this time, knowledge
also held by farmers.
There is limited product diversification and value-adding. The existing value adding system in the bamboo
sector is modest rudimentary, low-tech processing. Tools and implements used include hack-saws, knives,
drills and hammers. Value adding is mainly by investing time while skills and level of training are still
rudimentary. As it stands now, the low level of productivity of the handicrafts sector combined with low
products quality made it uncompetitive when one thinks of export markets for the Ethiopian bamboo sector.
i.e. competitiveness of Ethiopian bamboo products in international markets will remain low. The bamboo
sector needs product development through training and improved skills, better design and promotion to get
adequate market share.
Potential areas of product lines that may be considered are bamboo for construction (e.g. scaffold for building
construction, roof covers, etc), production of bio-energy (bamboo fuelwood and bamboo charcoal), pulp and
paper manufacturing, packaging/wrapping materials.
Bamboo experts raise important concerns regarding the management and utilization of bamboo resources in
Ethiopia. They are of the opinion that “there is some wastage of the bamboo resource as business and
marketing activities are growing fast before adequate work is done on the production and management plan
Based on the analysis of the existing bamboo products marketing system, among many possible, the following
recommendations are in order:
1. Different ways of promoting bamboo products such as displays, activities at the trade fairs and
exhibitions, using brand ambassadors need to be implemented.
2. Middlemen and cooperative bamboo marketing at local level should be strengthened following the
example of cereals, coffee and other agricultural products marketing unions.
3. In order to link the value-chain to the national market, the development of local trading points along the
road infrastructure, in small rural towns and big towns is paramount.
4. There is also a need to organize the trade of raw bamboo. While there are many timber yards selling
eucalyptus poles along the road, there are no such one-stop selling points for bamboo.
5. Promotional programmes should target the private sector by identifying and supporting those who are
willing and able to invest in bamboo development.
6. Farmers use traditional propagation methods. Hence, their way of propagation may not cop with large
consumption of bamboo if large-scale processing starts. Research works on propagation methods should
be strengthened and knowledge transferred to producers.
7. Focus on domestic markets: import substitution rather than world market penetration should be a strategy.
However, some small quantities of quality products, for instance, weaving, products like lampshades from
bamboo are thought to be competitive for European countries markets.
8. Experts in bamboo have a big worry that before proper management plan of the resource, the increasing
bamboo business and marketing could lead to resource wastage and irreversible destructions. Hence,
invitations for investment in large-scale and mode
1.1. Bamboo Resources Bases in Ethiopia
There is a widely held expectation that the bamboo resources will provide a big opportunity for the
Ethiopian economy. It is known that two bamboo species are growing in Ethiopia. These species are
Yushania alpina k. Schum and Oxytenanthera abyssinica (A. Rich) Munro. The Highland bamboo
(Arundinaria alpina) is afromontane species occurring at the higher altitude ranges between 2200 -
3500 m.a.s.l. It is restricted to fertile soils (LUSO CONSULT, 1997). This species is situated in
important agricultural zones. Next to large natural stands there are plots of highland bamboo on
farmland. Most of these plots are found in the south-western part of the Ethiopian highlands. The
Lowland Bamboo (Oxythenanthera abyssinica) in Ethiopia grows only in the western part of the
Ethiopian low lands and emerges into the Savannah Woodlands of Sudan. It occurs mainly between
1000 and 1800 m.a.s.l. It has not been planted so far.
Although Ethiopia has a large resource of bamboo, the existing information about the distribution
and coverage of bamboo resources given by different reports is limited and vary. There has been a
general notion that Ethiopia has over one million hectares of highland and lowland bamboo
resources. According to a report provided in 1990 by the MOA on Study on Forest Resource Base,
Identification, Conservation, and Rational use quoted in EFAP (1994), the bamboo woodland is
448,000 ha. An estimate by LUSO CONSULT (1997) shows that the coverage of lowland bamboo is
800,000 hectares while the highland bamboo is 300,000 hectares. The same report also states that
the total mapped highland bamboo in Ethiopia is 129626 hectare and further noted, however, that
changes might have taken place in the meantime. The total area of mapped lowland bamboo amounts
to 480,510 ha. and, this area, however, is underestimated. Similarly, unmapped area is estimated to
range between 200,000 ha and 350,000 hectare implying the total area could be between 700,000 and
850,000 ha. The report by Luso Consult further sated that degradation of bamboo resources is
observed around newly created settlement near forests. Due to many settlements, bamboo land was
cleared. In terms of the quality of bamboo on farm land, the report says that the bamboo culms on
farmers’ plots vary significantly in size and quality. They are much thinner than those found in the
natural stands. These could be due to the regular extraction by farmers. In communities like Injibara
in Amhara region, bamboo is actively planted.
This large bamboo resource has not been adequately exploited beyond the traditional utilizations
largely by the communities living in bamboo producing areas. In recent times, there is a limited
emergence of the informal sector and small scale bamboo processing and marketing activities.
1.2. Bamboo Resources Development and the National Economy
The Ethiopian government has given attention to promote the handicrafts economy. The recently
designed five-year development plan known as Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to
End Poverty (PASDEP) outlines the sectoral policies, programs and targets for accelerated
development to end poverty emphasis food security and vulnerability challenges. One of the
strategies to overcome the food security challenges is through income diversification and promotion
of the non-agricultural incomes. The program document states that: “Income diversification through
non-agricultural activities is important. To this effect, the program considers alternative or
supplementary income sources in non-farm activities. This requires market effectiveness, credit
services through micro-finance institutions; establishment of marketing cooperatives; and provision
of training; all of which are important for both agricultural and non-agricultural activities”.
PASDEP also emphasizes the private sector development. Among the strategy for the private sector
development is the National Micro and Small Enterprises Development Strategy. The government
will continue to provide business development training and extension services. The government’s
support is mostly channeled through the Federal Micro and Enterprise Development Agency
(FEMSEDA), and increasingly through Regional MSEDAs. Activities include basic training in
technologies and business skills, development of low-level serviced working premises, the provision
of micro-credit and information on markets and techniques, and working with producers to identify
constraints and bottlenecks.
The Micro and Small Enterprises plan for the immediate future is indicated to include providing
more basic training in textile skills, upgrading business development services by strengthening the
capacity and providing staff training to Regional MSEDAs; creating market linkages with foreign
importers, with a special emphasis on handicrafts, especially hand loomed ‘shemma’ products,
leather, bamboo, and basketry. When it comes to the development of bamboo resources, the plan
seems to emphasize the export opportunities.
Currently investment climate in Ethiopia is better facilitated and conducive. Provisions have been
made to encourage potential activities for private investors in commercial forestry. Investments in
large-scale plantations for timber, the establishment of integrated forest-based industries such as pulp
and paper and chipboard, and the establishment of rubber plantations are encouraged. Other activities
like the production and marketing of gum and incense are already well established in the country.
1.3. Development interventions and capacity building
Luso Consult (1997) reports that earlier in 1997, there was a participative planning workshop that
took place in Addis Ababa in order to develop strategies for sustainable use of bamboo in Ethiopia.
The fact that, ten years later, the country is still mainly in a state of preparation and planning without
much significant engagement in the sector shows the development of the bamboos business is
progressing rather slowly.
Both the federal and regional governments are gradually giving emphasis for the bamboo sector by
focusing on the following areas:
• Establishment of the new and strengthening the existing handicrafts training centers
and their workshops;
• Engagement in international affairs of scientific information network (workshops,
trainings, research, networks, etc);
• Creating opportunities for some upcoming investments (domestic and foreign);
• Engagement with international development partners e.g. this UNIDO project;
Capacity building collaboration is another area of engagement undergoing towards the promotion of
the bamboo sector. It was learnt that FEMSEDA and its predecessor a public institution, had
collaboration with the Chinese for over 20 years in promoting bamboo products. Currently, INBAR
and UNIDO are supporting the skill development programs. The REMSEDA in Awassa has a centre
for quality and productivity improvement that includes a small bamboo workshop created as one
section of the existing handicrafts centre. The organization reports that it is entering in collaboration
with an organization called Engineering Capacity Building (ECBP) and INBAR. The ECBP is an
Ethio-German program that will operate towards industry reform in Ethiopia aiming at ways of
linking teaching institutions like Universities and the industry.
One of the program activities is to establish ‘incubation’ centres where the graduates from the public
vocational training centres /colleges will stay till they gain experience and establish their won firms
as young entrepreneurs. In the case of the SNNPR REMSEDA, the incubation centres focus on
bamboo combined with woodwork. During their stay for a year, they will be trained about bamboo
products designing and techniques, do their business using the machines, tools and implements and
bring their products to the markets. The trainees will be supported with working space, and financial
requirements. Such incubation centre is under preparation. The other component is the technology
component supported by GTZ. It will work on bamboo technology and know-how transfer to the
graduates. Already trainees in Teppi area started to produce some bamboo products.
The Amhara region REMSEDA in Bahir Dar is doing preparation to promote the bamboo production
and business in the region. In the region, the REMSEDA is instituted under the Bureau of Trade and
Industry. Here REMSEDA has identified the development and promotion and handicrafts as one of
the priority areas. Other priority areas include food processing/ agro-processing, construction, wood
and metal works, textile and garment, and urban agriculture. The expert at the REMSEDA has the
opinion that although he knows some bamboo products since some 25 years back, the products on
the market are still “not attractive” and “weak”. The product could not be competitive even with the
expensive and environmentally non-friendly products. There are efforts going on to train bamboo
processors at the region, although follow up on the effects of training is lacking. Unlike the SNNPR,
REMSEDA in Bahir Dar has no its won workshop for handicrafts. REMSEDA has structures that
reach down to the rural and urban kebeles. They have trained 600 Development Agents who are
assigned to assist in advising SMEs in market business development service (BDS) training, and
other supports. There is also what is called a “one-stop-service” whereby a customer gets all services
at one window. The services include credit, land, market information, and others for business
REMSEDA in Bahir Dar sees the development ani
At the community level the current project, MARKET BASED DEVELOPMENT WITH BAMBOO IN
EASTERN AFRICA – EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME GENERATION FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION, has
identified selected rural communities that have a good potential for bamboo sector development
opportunities. The objective of the project is to enable poverty reduction through improved
management, production, processing and marketing of bamboo resources. It will facilitates ways for
market based development of the sector and strengthening the linkage between the bamboo producer
rural households, middle men like bamboo traders, processing and marketing agencies. It envisages
the exploration of the bamboo resource potential changing it into cash crop for generating household
income and contribution to the national economy. The project aims at better information and
training, skill development and support for the selected community members so that they will be able
to properly manage the bamboo resources, produce better quality products and sell to the markets.
As observed at the meetings held with communities at Hagreselam in SNNPR, experts in the bamboo
sector, the private sector investors, officials of the Bureau of Trade and Industry and the Regional
Government in Awassa, SNNPRS, during the 2nd regional Steering Committee meeting there is a
high expectation from the envisaged development of the bamboo sector. The commitment and
readiness of the community members since the launching of the current project strongly signals the
need for speeding up the project activities along the supply-value-adding and marketing chain. The
high local, regional and federal government’s commitment to the sector implies that if the planed
project activities are implemented the resource will significantly contribute to the local development
and regional economic progress.
1.4. Rationale of the study: Value-chain analysis
1.4.1. Value-chain promotion for development
The current interest of policymakers in value chains arises in part from the tendencies outlined
earlier. The power of global buyers (processors as well as retailers) is a "fact on the ground" that is
hard to ignore. There have been significant processes of concentration and increasing coordination
across a range of agribusiness sectors. Nevertheless, the current level of interest in value chains also
derives from broader trends in development thinking, and in particular an increasing recognition of
the importance of the private sector in the development process.
This recognition of the role of the private sector arises from three factors. First, trade liberalization
has placed greater emphasis on market orientation and, in particular, export markets. This inevitably
increases the salience of competitiveness for development programmes. Second, structural
adjustment programmes and the tendency towards shrinking the role played by the state have focused
attention on the roles to be played by public agencies and the private sector in agricultural
development. This questioning involves both the output side (the role of state marketing boards vs.
private intermediaries) and the input side (the appropriateness of different providers of agricultural
service inputs). Recognizing the different roles and different contributions of the public and private
sectors should also lead to consideration of how they (and other agencies, such as NGOs) should
collaborate together in public-private partnerships (PPP).
The contrast between long established and more recent approaches to agricultural development are
summarized in Table 1. While any such contrast between the "old" and the "new" inevitably
overemphasizes differences and caricatures of both approaches, the table captures an important shift
in emphasis. The two broader shifts, away from state provision and towards the private sector, and
away from the production/technology/output approach and towards a more market-oriented
approach, are reinforced by the switch towards non-traditional agricultural exports, where issues of
market differentiation, vertical coordination and systemic efficiency are much more in evidence. This
means that the broader context in which the small farmers becomes more complex and potentially
Table 1 Changing approaches to agricultural development programmes
Traditional approach More recent approach
Emphasis on increasing output and productivity Broader concern with incomes, livelihoods,
vulnerability and poverty reduction
Emphasis on technology Broader emphasis on economic and social
Focus on "supply-side" interventions, based on Increasing focus on market demand and the
the providers' perceptions of producers' needs specific requirements for supplying different
buyers and markets
Assumption that producers will sell into markets Recognition of structuring of markets through
characterized by arm's-length market relationships vertical coordination and role of buyers and
Public sector extension services seen as prime More emphasis on mobilizing private sector
deliverers of support to farmers support for producers
Interventions focused on producers Systemic interventions from a value chain
perspective, with the recognition of the potential
importance of post-harvest activities for poverty
Focus on traditional agricultural commodities Support for expansion of non-traditional
1.4.2. “Production-to-Consumption” analysis and beyond
One of the expectations raised by the TOR of this study was to follow a value-chain analysis
approach in this study. The value-chain analysis was found to best meet this requirement: it is based
on the concept of „competitive advantage” and looks not only at the physical flow of goods and their
transformation but also at„ activities and links “along the chain. This approach also addresses issues
of “coordination” and “governance” that are crucial for the sustainability of the chain.
1.4.3. Value-chain analysis: finding appropriate ways of upgrading
This study is based on the concept of bamboo “value chains”. What is behind this notion? A “value
chain” describes the full range of activities which are required to bring a product or service from
conception, through the different phases of production (involving a combination of physical
transformation and the input of various producer services), delivery to final consumers, and final
disposal after use. Considered in its general form, it takes the shape as described in Figure 1. As can
be seen from this, production per se is only one of a number of value added links. Moreover, there
are ranges of activities within each link of the chain. Although often depicted as a vertical chain,
intra-chain linkages are most often of a two-way nature – for example, specialized design agencies
not only influence the nature of the production process and marketing, but are in turn influenced by
the constraints in these downstream links in the chain.
Each value chain comprises four important elements (i.e. steps in the production-to-consumption
1. Design / Product development
Figure 1: Schematic presenation of a value-chain system
(logistics, transformation inputs)
Analyzing and interpreting a value-chain will yield insights into the most rewarding way of
upgrading the bamboo sector. Generally, four trajectories can be discerned, which firms (or a whole
sector) can adopt to upgrade their operations, namely:
• Process upgrading: increasing the efficiency of internal processes such that these are
significantly better than those of competitors, both within individual links in the chain (for example,
improved communication between primary producers, lower wastage), and between the links in the
chain (for example, joint (and more frequent) sourcing of raw material instead of an individual
sourcing done occasionally and (too) large quantities).
• Product upgrading: introducing new products or improving old products faster than
competitors from neighboring sectors, i.e. in the furniture sector. This involves improving product
development processes both within individual members of the value chain and in the relationship
• Functional upgrading: increasing value added by changing the mix of activities conducted
within the firm or the sector (for example, taking responsibility for, or outsourcing accounting,
logistics and quality functions) or moving the locus of activities to different links in the value chain
(for example from manufacturing of bamboo furniture to their design and on to bamboo-based
• Chain upgrading: moving to a new value chain altogether (for example, Taiwanese firms
moved from the manufacture of transistor radios to calculators, to TVs, to computer monitors, to
laptops and now to WAP phones; in the case of bamboo it could be the move from being a bamboo
mat producer to a bamboo plywood producer, and on to a composite board producer and eventually
a producer of general millworking components).
Value chain analysis combines a systemic perspective (focus on the value chain) with an emphasis
on governance structures (modes of interaction between enterprises). As a result, support
programmes targeted at agricultural producers must:
Recognize that a stakeholder approach must include key stakeholders that may be located far
away from the production systems being targeted for support. This should be linked to an
understanding that a value chain analysis may indicate points of leverage that can be targeted
effectively by government and donor interventions, but also that powerful interest within value
chains may be difficult to mobilize for development goals.
Adopt a market focus and an understanding that market segments are differentiated according to
the differing requirements of different types of buyers.
Recognize the importance of knowledge flows within value chains and the strengths and
limitations of inter-firm knowledge flows and buyer support for producer capabilities.
1.4.4. “Governance” and “Upgrading”
“Governance” is a central concept to value chain analysis. Why? Governance can be defined as non-
market co-ordination of economic activity. The starting point for interest in global value chains is the
fact that some firms directly or indirectly influence the organisation of global production, logistics
and marketing systems; while the features and trading volumes of some chains are determined by the
producers (they are “producer-driven”), others are set by the consumers and their preferences (these
chains are “consumer-driven”). Through the governance structures they create, producers and/or
consumers determine what access firms have to international markets and the range of activities
these firms can undertake.
“Upgrading” is another key concept for value chain analysis. The term refers to the acquisition of
technological capabilities and market linkages that enable firms to improve their competitiveness and
move into higher-value activities. Analysis of upgrading from a value chain perspective pays
particular attention to the ways in which value chain linkages facilitate or obstruct upgrading.
2. OBJCETIVES, METHODS, AND SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The aim of this study is to analyze the market situation of bamboo in Ethiopia and to identify options
for the development of bamboo sector:
The main duties of the study are:
1 Characterize and evaluate the traditional bamboo craftsmen workshops and modern
bamboo enterprises in Ethiopia based on the structure of business classification.
2 Identify major marketing chains, constraints, strength and weakness of bamboo marketing
system in selected areas.
3 Collect official data on import and export or statistical information on production, market
utilization, and consumption of bamboo products.
4 Asses and identify what kind of bamboo products are required for domestic and
surrounding markets with respect to new products.
5 Assess and recommend ways of improving the quality of bamboo products and looking
for better bamboo product marketing opportunity.
6 Analyze and determine the future trends of local bamboo products market and the
potential for Ethiopian bamboo products on different market options.
7 Study institutional environment.
8 Recommend and develop a market strategy based on marketing mix (product, price,
2.2. Methods of data collection
This study has employed multiple ways of data and information gathering to enable the analysis of
the current situation of bamboo products market in Ethiopia. Review of relevant documents,
research reports, and extensive discussion with experts in government organizations were made. The
list of the government offices contacted for this purpose is shown in annex 1. Discussion was also
made with bamboo producing and marketing rural communities in two project sites in Hagereselam
Woreda (Dr Jochen Statz involved), in SNNPR, and Enjibara area Kassa-Chawassa kebele, Banja
Shikudada Woreda, of the Amhara region. Small private and group bamboo enterprises in Addis
Ababa, Awassa, Bahir Dar, and at the two rural committees (in Hagereselam and Enjibara) were
visited. The bamboo training centers and their workshops at the FeMSEDA in Addis Ababa and
ReMSEDA in Awassa (SNNPR), and Bahir Dar in Amhara region (has no training center yet), were
visited. A newly established modern bamboo factory near Addis Ababa was also visited while the
planned pulp and paper factory (Land and Sea) was contacted). The possibility of using bamboo in
flower farms was also explored by contacting one of the farms in the vicinity of Addis Ababa. The
researcher participated in the Second Regional Steering Committee Meeting held in Addis Ababa,
Awassa during January 15 - 18, 2007, the occasion that also helped to get more information and
insight about the on-going projects as a result of the opportunity created to make contacts and
consultations with stakeholders.
2.3. Scope and limitations
One major challenge of this study has been the lack of database on the marketing and trade of
bamboo products. Hence, this report had to mainly rely on the primary information generated from
interviews and discussions. Owing to the time and financial resources limitations, household survey
was not done in this study. As the consumption of bamboo products by urban dwellers is very much
limited, particularly in major cities like Addis Ababa, and the current occasional product consumers
are more of tourists and some foreigners who temporarily live in the country, qualitative assessment
of the existing situation of marketing is thought to be a sufficient method. It is believed that adequate
insight has been obtained from the study of rural communities, small-scale producers and marketers,
modern large scale bamboo developers, and the various government agencies involved in the sector.
3. BAMBOO PRODUCTION, PROCESSING AND MARKETING: CASE STUDIES
In order to get insight of the current bamboo production, processing, marketing and consumption,
various agencies involved in the sector were thoroughly studied. This chapter provides detailed
assessments made in this respect.
3.1. Ethiopian Tourist Trading Enterprise (ETTE)
ETTE is a state entity of the Ministry of Trade and Industry that produces and sells souvenirs and gift
articles. Its Headquarters and production centre is located in Megenagna area, in the eastern quarter
of Addis Ababa. Next to bamboo products that feature very prominently in ETTE’s sales outlets the
range of products includes traditional and modern paintings, ceramic/timber and metal products, gold
and silver jewellery, rugs, silkscreen products and various interior decorations.
Show room in the production centre of ETTE (Megenagna)
3.1.1. Sourcing / Procurement
The workshop of ETTE only works with the highland bamboo. It is being sourced from wholesalers
at 5-8 Birr per culm (depending on the diameter). Prices for the best quality culms (with thick walls
and long internodes) can be as high as 20 Birr. There is no established grading system; rather, the
price for culms is being negotiated every time anew.
The bamboo workshop within ETTE’s workshops has been set up some 16 years ago. During the
first eight years it has slowly been built up without however being able to attract the attention of the
market. Technical support by JICA (with an advisor working in the team for two years and various
follow-up visits) has helped to establish simple though solid design and production standards.
The current range of products can be seen as a blend of traditional utensils, Japanese design and own
creations of the team of craftsmen at the workshop and center. Technologies used in the workshop
are simple. The standard treatment of the bamboo culms for instance is done with steam (without
pressure), melatine, kerosene and (wood) varnish.
A lamp shade of Y. alpina in the making
Sales are being done through thirteen sales outlets (out of which eleven are in Addis Ababa).
Currently, EETE has shops located at Hilton Hotel (2), Piza (1), Masqal square Tourism office (1).
During the last quarter (July-September 2006) sales of bamboo products in the show room and in all
the shops combined stood at 60,000 Birr. ETTE has produced a 14 page brochure with colour
photographs, presenting 80 of their bamboo products (lamp shades, flower vases, various baskets,
candle holders, partitions, shelves, racks, service trays, chairs, beds, sofas and coffee tables).
The bed-side lamp seems to sell particularly well at the airport display center, where people (both
foreigners and nationals) buy it as an inexpensive last minute souvenir that they can carry easily in
their hand luggage.
Bedside collection (bed side table lamp) and with a distinct Ethiopian twist
In an average year, the workshop turns over 8,000 to 9,000 culms (thus realizing sales of 20,000 to 24,000
Birr). Product type and quality ranges between simple and common ones to those of latest design and
relatively higher quality. For instance products like bamboo bed and bamboo sofa are well done and could
fetch higher prices (Table 2).
Table 2: Price of sample bamboo products at the ETTE in Addis Ababa
Product Price (birr) Specification
Bamboo Chair 159.6
Bamboo sofa (arm chair) 592* single setter
Bamboo sofa (arm chair) 1070 two setter
Bamboo bed (1.2 m) 1391
Dining table (80 cm*80cm) 460
bamboo sofa 1536 three setter
* The price of similar product at FEMSEDA workshop is 400 Birr.
Source: ETTE product catalogue.
Bamboo products marketing at the Tourist Trade Enterprise in Addis Ababa is relatively being well
organized, but still limited. ETTE has display and sells centers at different hotels. The sales strategy
seem to be more oriented towards reaching tourists: i.e. products are displayed at the souvenir shops
which are regarded as places for tourist and higher income consumers. It can be said that product
promotions are not done aggressively in order to reach the large mass of urban consumers. There is
not adequate data to make price analysis including product demand, seasonality of prices. In fact, at
the ETTE product prices are fixed i.e. prices are written on products showing that there is no
negotiation while buying.
3.1.4. Outlook: Where they you stand in three years from now?
Things in this government entity are progressing slowly. Changes in the designs or the production
processes take time to be implemented. While the managers are, for instance, aware of the fact that
the European customers prefer a “natural” finishing, they still largely apply shiny lacquers and
varnishes as this is the standard and proven procedure applied over many years.
With a growing middle class, demand for ETTE’s bamboo products can be expected to increase
further, though at a slow pace and with a clear upper limit to it. If the products prove to be more and
more rewarded by the domestic market they will make their way “to the street” with local craftsmen
outside the ETTE copying successful models and styles.
3.2. Roadside Bamboo Furniture Makers in Addis Ababa
Small-scale private bamboo workshop owners are common in many pocket areas of Addis Ababa.
For instance along the road connecting the Bole-Medhanialem ring road to Hailegebresellasie road at
the junction of St. Urael Church. Three workshop owners were interviewed independently about their
workshop, production and marketing of bamboo products.
A young man active at furniture making.
As many other businesses, they are grouped in mini-clusters of 3-7 units/cluster. However, little use
is made of the positive effects such a concentration could have for a joint sourcing of raw materials
(bamboo, glues, tools), advertising or a rationalization through serial production. There are estimated
20-25 such workshops in Addis Ababa. Three of these workshops which are still in existence
received the first training at FeMSEDA around 20 years ago (the owner of one workshop took pride
in saying that this had been the “original” training).
Many of such small enterprises are congested over a small area located in residential quartets.
Although such locations could be strategic for displays and marketing, production in such congested
locations is not convenient.
3.2.1. Sourcing / Procurement
The workshops use almost exclusively the highland bamboo (Yushania alpina); it originates mostly
from the South of the country. It is being sourced through wholesalers in Addis Ababa, most of them
found in the Mercato area. The typical micro-carpenter goes there to buy bamboo culms once a
The poles are generally 7m long, the larger diameters are sold at 7 Birr, the smaller ones at 4.5
Birr/culm. A medium size carpentry workshop with 8-10 employees will turn over an average 200
The typical buyers of the no-frill bamboo furniture produced in road-side micro-workshops are
expatriates furnishing their houses for their short, 2-4 years’ assignments in the country.
Road side furniture displays: bamboo sofa and shelf
The furniture are being displayed on public walkways on the roadside. Many of the customers come
upon recommendation of other customers. There is no space to build up a large stock of furniture or
to display a variety of models to choose from. Most of the production is done on order. All workshop
owners can present a showbook with a selection of their works and the designs they offer.
Dining chairs sell at 175 Birr/piece, a double beds (160 cm wide) at 1400 Birr, the price of a six
piece sofa set (including a table) is 1450 Birr, a sofa chair costs 250 Birr. A corner shelf costs about
3.2.4. Outlook: Where will they stand in three years from now?
There have been little dramatic changes or developments in the sector in recent years. An upgrading
or up-scaling of the production are inhibited by limited space of the existing workshops and a lack of
capital to buy new tools and equipment. As a result, most of the workshops are stagnating at a very
3.3. Road-side Bamboo Yards/ Traders at Shola Poultry Market
While bamboo yards are less common or absent in other big cities outside of Addis Ababa, like
Awassa, Bahir Dar 1 , there are some in parts of Addis Ababa. They are found in Marcato and
northern quarter like Shola/ Semen Mazegaja area. During this study, two road-side bamboo yards
were visited. The owners are culm wholesale traders and bamboo furniture makers.
One of the two is a group of ten young people, lead by a team leader Ato Melese Minale (25 yrs),
started five years ago, have additional casual labour as per need. They do wholesale and retail of
bamboo culms. For this activity the group has rented land at 300 Birr/month. The group members are
migrants from Enjibara, in Gojam, Amhara region.
The second bamboo yards is owned by Ato Alem Mengist (29 yrs), who started in the bamboo
business 16 years ago. This yard employs 14 workers; works as both retailer and wholesaler of raw
bamboo and simple bamboo furniture; the rent for the 32 m² premises is 300 Birr/month.
3.3.1. Sourcing of Bamboo
The group lead by Melese Minale gets a raw bamboo (all of it highland bamboo) from the Enjibara
area in Amhara region, some 435 km north of Addis Ababa. About 1,600 culms is received per year,
i.e. equivalent to two truck loads. The culms are bought at a price range of 10-20 Birr. Local
collectors / middlemen are engaged to source the material from the production area. Between March
and June no bamboo is cut, because bamboo is sprouting at this time.
The second enterprise is also sourcing bamboo culms from Enjibara area (in Amhara region), Sakala,
Gurage (southwest of Adds Ababa) and Hageresalem (in SNNPR). This yard buys culms at 4 - 5 Birr
and sells them at 10 Birr. It turns over an average of seven truck loads a year. A truck load equals
800-1,000 culms. It costs is 3,000 Birr per trip to transport the raw bamboo (from producer region to
Addis) (i.e. around 3 Birr/culm).
The bamboo yard owned by a group of young men sells the raw bamboo at 15-25 Birr per culm
(buys at 10-20 Birr). It implies that the yard makes between 25% and 50% gross margin from sales.
The major quality criteria for sales are colour (light colored bamboo against dark). The light pieces
There is one bamboo collection and selling center at the road side in Enjibara, Banja Shikudada Woreda, in Amhara
region. It serves to collect bamboo and transport to Addis Ababa.
can be painted more conveniently). Annual turnover is two truckloads (with 800 culms each); each
truck load will last 4 months (no bamboo is being traded from May to August). Among the main
customers for the raw culms are cafés, hotels, recreation centers and handicraft workshops.
The yard also sells the furniture it makes. Double-setter chair is sold at 25-30 Birr, a small seat
fetches 10 Birr, flower pots cost 8-10 Birr. Further more, a small coffee table is produced for 18-20
Birr to order.
The second yard has recently started (a week before the survey was conducted), to supply to an
Ethiopian bamboo factory owner/ entrepreneur who has started a bamboo mat, board and toothpick
production in Akaki District between Addis and Debre Zeit towns. The wholesaler yard buys the raw
culm in the village at 5-6 Birr from Enjibara and resells them to the factory at 7-8 Birr. This has been
the third time that this factory has made a major supply to the factory. The yard generally uses local
collectors to collect raw bamboo from the local producers. The owner has a trading license.
His annual turnover is seven truckloads, the majority of it being resold at wholesale conditions. The
prices of the handicrafts and furniture additionally produced and sold at the yard is 20 birr for 2-3
seater chair; 20-25 birr for a table; and 7-8 birr for small seat.
3.3.4. Outlook: where will they stand in three years from now
The group yard owners recall that there used to be around 20 bamboo yards in Addis Ababa some 5-
10 years ago, but many of them had to close down because of rising costs of transport (used to be
2,000 to 2,500 Birr, but nowadays it is 3,000 to 4,000 Birr. The increase in transport cost and the
subsequent closing down of businesses was very pronounced last year, when fuel costs went up.
The other bamboo yard said that his venture used to have 6 bamboo yards around Addis Ababa with
65 workers. But 15 years ago, he went bankrupt because he was not able to pay back a bank loan that
he had taken to buy a private car. The owner argues that although the sector is a profitable, however,
the government has not yet recognized its true potential. The new bamboo factory owners wanted to
hire the manager of this little business as a quality controller, but he preferred to stay independent
instead and wants to work as a regular raw bamboo supplier to them.
While the demand for bamboo is growing, the rent and transportation costs are rising, too. This is the
main challenge that the small bamboo companies face at present.
3.4. The Hagereselam User Group in SNNPR
Hagereselam is one of the intervention regions of the current bamboo project. It is located in the
heart of the “bamboo land” in the southern highlands, 80 km South of Awassa. Here, bamboo is an
important part of the farming systems that are based on the cultivation of enset and a wide range of
vegetables as well as the production of milk for cash incomes.
According the information obtained from the focus group discussion, the livelihood of the
community in Garse kebele is derived from various agricultural activities. In a ranking exercise,
farmers found enset to be their most important source of cash income, followed by milk and annual
crops. Bamboo is the fourth most important crop in economic terms, even more important than
The average well-off household in the village gets an annual 800 Birr (out of a total of 4,000 Birr);
middle-income households realize 400 Birr (total: 2,500 Birr), while poor households’ total income
of 400 Birr does not include bamboo as they do not have bamboo plots.
So far, bamboo use in the area has mainly been for domestic purposes of local farmers. The current
project wants to promote the local production of furniture and handicraft for urban markets.
However, the villagers are skeptical about the upcoming activities as a similar project early in the
1990s did not have a lasting impact.
What started of as a rather technical discussion about bamboo cultivation with one of the farmers in his plot, evolved
into a vivid group discussion of well over 2 hours.
3.4.1. Cultivation of Bamboo
Majority of the interviewed farmers only cultivate the bamboo and sell the raw culms to other
farmers in the area without processing them. Flowering of the bamboo (that occurs “every 100
years”) is currently leading to a decline in the availability of bamboo. There are 708 households in
the study kebele. All of them have bamboo on their plots, though a large variation of bamboo plots.
The livelihoods in Hagereselam are based on the cultivation of enset (top centre) and vegetable (top right) as well
as pasture for milk production (centre). Together with eucalyptus (seen on the top), bamboo (Yushania alpina, top
of the centre) is an important source of construction material, not least for the traditional bamboo tukuls (top left).
Farmers expressed concerns that they are not sufficiently aware of the virtue of bamboo. This has
prevented them from giving this crop adequate attention. They rather focus on enset as the major
cash crop (and subsistence crop) and annual crops like horse beans, peas, barley, potatoes and
Shortage of land and increasing population pressure to convert the remaining land in to agriculture is
seen by farmers as the biggest threat that bamboo cultivation is facing these days. Further more, the
informality of the bamboo trade is seen to be a cause of high fluctuations in prices and demand.
November to February and June and September are the main seasons for the harvest of bamboo.
Farmers don’t harvest bamboo between March and May when the bamboo is sprouting (to secure the
regeneration of the stands). During that time farmers also keep cattle away from the bamboo stands.
Some manure is applied to the shooting bamboo.
3.4.2. Local Bamboo Processing
In 1993, eight people were trained in cooperation with the Bureau of Agriculture and the Ministry of
Education in the local Adult Vocational Training Centre. Farmers were boarding in the centre and
were paid an additional allowance of 8 Birr/day. Farmers were trained to produce simple furniture
like chairs and beds.
After completion of the training, a centre has been installed where a set of basic tools was available
for those who had completed the training. The government provided the raw material (bamboo
culms) for the trainees to produce some products. The scheme was discontinued, the most important
reason seems to have been the fact that farmers did not get individual tools but had to share them
among themselves as group. The problem of bamboo processing and marketing at local level is lack
or inadequacy of preservation and drying of raw material. This greatly affects the quality of the
traditional bamboo products.
The site is located just above the coffee growing region of southern highlands. Some craftsmen in the region
have specialized in the production of bamboo mats, which are used for coffee drying. The Mansa junction
(shortly before reaching Hagereselam) is a local centre for this activity together with the production of
bamboo baskets sold to by-passing travelers and the weaving of various grass items (bread baskets, car seat
covers…), also sold at the road-side.
The community members at the group discussion said that fortunately, there is no cultural stigma
associated with the processing of bamboo (unlike other professions like black smiths, weaving and
tanning that were seen as socially inferior occupations).
Surprisingly, the processing of bamboo so far has been an occupation for men only, the bamboo
believed to be a “hard” material that has to be worked on by men. Currently, some community
members do produce simple and traditional products out of bamboo for sale at local markets. There
are also limited products which are sold to the passing by travelers along the road.
Farmers sell the raw bamboo culm at 6-8 Birr/pole, mainly (or exclusively) to local buyers. The
value chain is not yet connected to the extra-regional trade. This is all the more surprising as the
basic road infrastructure is relatively good, with direct access to the nearby town of Alta-Wondo and
on to Awassa. Even the trade with the few bamboo products is only local.
Outsiders wanting to buy culms from farmers have to pay royalties and get a permit at the local
Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. The officers at this bureau also inform the interested
buyers about the locations where bamboo is available; as a result no brokers are involved in the
The main quality criteria when selling the raw culms is the diameter of the culms [not the length of
the internodes, as stated by ETTE craftsmen in Addis]. Differing from the trade in Eucalyptus, no
license is required to trade bamboo; as a result the sector is highly informal with nobody specializing
seriously in the trade (like in the timber sector).
Marketing cooperatives for bamboo should be established and be strengthened, thus following the
example of coffee marketing unions and other agricultural products so that the marketing of raw
materials and products will be facilitated.
Farmer selling his bamboo in Hagereselam; so far, the sales of bamboo culms is done on an individual basis,
providing little bargaining power to each individual farmer.
It has to be noted that much of the bamboo trade is inter-village trade. The products sold to outsiders
include covers for enjera pans, locally known as akimbalo, selling at 1.50 birr. (See table 3).
Generally, prices for bamboo products are higher during dry season (during or just after the coffee
harvest), comparatively better than in the rainy season: as the coffee farmers use the cash they have
just earned to replace household goods. In the community, farmers use the bamboo as their bank
account; bamboo provides a ready source of cash (to buy food in times of shortage or to purchase
Farmers produce many local products for own use and sell to local markets. There is a relatively big
local market for traditional bamboo products for use by the rural communities. Farmers also use
bamboo for making houses, homestead fences, grain storages, etc.
Table 3: Prices of traditional bamboo products at local markets in Hagreselam study area
Products Price (Birr) At road side At the nearest town
Akimbalo (cover for enjera pan) 1.50
Gimbola (waste basket) 2
Storage for cereal 20- 25
Kumicho (basket for cloth) 5 10 20
Sources: Community group discussion.
Table 4: Price of some bamboo products at the road side selling point (Mansa junction)
Product Price (Birr)
Cloth basket 18 - 20
shelf 20 - 35
Flower vase /pot 4-5
Mats (rainy season) time) 3
Mat (dry season) 8
Sources: Community group discussion.
At the Mansa junction (5 km before Hagereselam town), shelves, laundry baskets, coffee drying mats
produced locally are sold at the road side. Prices ranged widely from selling point to selling point:
the same type of shelf was found to be prized between 15 and 35 Birr. This is yet another indication
of how highly informal the trade with bamboo products is.
Road-side traders near the Mansa junction selling coffee drying mats to travelers
Demand for the coffee drying mats is seasonal, while the other products are selling equally well the
year round. The typical buyers of these products are travelers driving by in their cars. These buyers
are the final consumers, there appears to be no sizeable trade of these goods involving middlemen
reselling them in town centers.
Along the road from Hagreselam to Awassa, there is no significant movement of bamboo products,
except a coffee drying mat seen in the next town, Aleta-wondo. i.e. it implies a value chain or
market disconnection. There are some products at a road side selling point close to Awassa, but they
may not necessarily come from Hagreselam area.
Ato Wuncha Nonee, 60 years old, is a farmer at Mansa junction, Garse kebele in Hagreselam area.
His household has 15 members. He has bamboo lot in 2 places on his land; in one place it is 1
hectare and another 0.5 hectare. He started planting bamboo some 40 years ago. His wife w/o
Amarech is selected as one of the 50 target project beneficiaries in this community. He estimates that
he has over 10,000 bamboo culms on his land. He earns 600 to 1000 birr per year from the sales of
bamboo culms. In 2006 he earned 1200 birr from a sell of 600 culms at 2 birr per piece.
3.4.4. Outlook: Where will they stand in three years from now?
The current bamboo development project is a collaboration of the Ministry of Agriculture
(implementing) and the Ministry of Trade. Field staff of the Ministry of Agriculture is complaining
that their field and extension work is not properly remunerated, resulting in a lack of motivation to
carry out the work with dedication.
Growing population pressure and the tradition of sharing ever scarce land are problematic. Against
this background, the farmers see a lot of potential for bamboo cultivation. Farmers say that bamboo
from this area seems to be highly valued and could be used as a vehicle for resolving the growing
challenges and poverty that local people face in their livelihoods.
Farmers are very concerned about the sustainability of the upcoming project intervention because
they have had similar experiences with such promotional programmes. A lot of research and a good
deal of interviews have already been done in this village without improving the life of the farmers.
The value-chain so far is not linked to the national market. In this situation, the development of local
trading points like the one at Mansa junction (near Hagereselam) is paramount. The existing
handicraft culture (like grass weaving) can serve as the basis for the development of the bamboo
There is also a need to organize the trade of raw bamboo. While there are many timber yards selling
eucalyptus poles along the road, there are no such one-stop selling points for bamboo. Deforestation
is rampant in the area, aggravated by the ever growing pressure to bring more land under cultivation.
With a growing population the fuelwood requirements will also increase; eucalyptus might not be
sufficient to meet this demand and bamboo might come in as an additional fuel (especially when
converted to charcoal). Use of bamboo as a biofuel with locals producing bamboo in out-grower
schemes is another option that should be seriously considered.
So far, bamboo cannot be found in the timber yards of Awassa. It will only be procured on order.
This is somewhat surprising, as the price of eucalyptus poles is more than double that of bamboo (8
Birr for eucalyptus vs. 3 Birr for bamboo poles).
3.5. Enjibara User group in Amhara Region
Enjibara is another study region where project beneficiary community was selected. It is one of the
potential areas for bamboo sector promotion. Enjibara is located 435 km North of Addis Ababa along
the road that connects Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar. The farmers in the area plant and manage
bamboo, sell raw bamboo, and also engage in production of traditional products for local markets
and other markets across regions. The tradition of bamboo cultivation is well integrated in the
farming systems. As reported by Luso Conult (1997) in Enjibara area in land-poor households,
income from bamboo sales can go up to 70% of total cash income. Framing systems here have the
most developed bamboo economy in Ethiopia and show dynamic growth rates due to their market
orientation and integration. As can be observed from the activities at the communities along the road
side, many community members particularly the youth and landless people are occupied by
handicrafts work to earn their living.
3.5.1. Cultivation of Bamboo
During the survey for this study, 20 community members of the Kassa-Chawasa kebele in Enjibara
participated in a discussion. Kassa-Chawasa kebele has 1060 households. In Enjibara, productive of
the highland farming system is very low and poverty is rampant. Hence, the community largely
depends on sales of raw bamboo and some handicrafts. The other sources of livelihood of the
community are production of potato, seasonal migration to oil seed growing areas (like Humera) and
coffee growing region (Wellega). Every household has own private lands. Although there were
communal (natural) bamboo lands in the past, they do not exist any more. Bamboo is harvested at its
2-4 years of age. Culms harvested at 4 years old age fetch higher prices. The community members
believe that they have a fast growing bamboo.
Bamboo is harvested during January and February while there is no harvest during the months May
to August. But, in case of family problems like food shortage, farmers can harvest and sell bamboo
showing that it is a security crop for poor farm households.
The raw bamboo culm is also supplied to Addis Ababa. Culms and bamboo products are also
supplied to areas like Humera in the northwest. There is a general price rise for cumls during the last
three years reaching an average of 6 birr from 2 birr per piece three years ago.
Community members say that they have some three bamboo varieties. The “black” variety is good
for making chairs while the “red” one is good for producing mats.
Enjibara area: bamboo culm form communal land made ready for renovation of a local church.
3.5.2. Local Bamboo Processing
The farmers in Enjibara area not only cultivate and sell raw bamboo culms but also produce some
local products. Many landless people, especially the youth here buy bamboo from farmers and
produce mats, simple furniture (mats, tables, chairs, stool, sofa, various kinds of baskets, etc), and at
the road side display and selling points.
at the Adqutu Got in the Kassa-Chawassa kebele, about 20 young men are currently active in
bamboo products production. They working place is at the roadside so that it will also be convenient
to display and sell products. Although they have some farming, bamboo is also their permanent
work. Qes Abera Zeleke and Girma Tarik are members of the group. Abera has been working there
over the last 12 years and Girma started 3 years ago. They have the opinion that although some
products they produce are labour intensive in nature, however, their prices are low. They do not use
any means of preservation, rather only sun-drying of the raw bamboo.
Just like the perception held in Hagereselam area in SNNPR, here, too women are not engaged in
producing bamboo products, as the work is considered to be physically demanding and women are
not also trained. Some 50 bamboo workers from this village are said to be trained sometimes in the
The bamboo producers in this village suggest that they like to be organized in kind of cooperative so
that will do better and use better processing tools and equipments.
In Kassa-Chawasa kebele many farmers are engaged in processing of some bamboo. For instance
from the 20 community members who participated in the discussion, 1 makes mats, 3 produce
chairs, and many of them produce beehives.
Markets exist for products made in the community. Sometimes farmers have to carry products to
markets at distant places. They may travel one or two days to reach the market places. As there is no
means of transport (or could be expensive e for them to use) they carry the locally made products. As
they weight is low they can carry much as 10 pieces of such products. Baskets for holding enjera,
and other products for storing or transporting grain (mostly carried by women on their back) are
common products brought to the market especially during the harvest season.
Qes Abera of the Adqutu village selling stools to the passing truck driver.
Some of the producers in Adqutu village also take raw bamboo for sale to Addis Ababa. They
cannot sell their products to Bahir Dar market (at 140 km distance) as the transport cost
expensive for them. There are also occasions when traders from other places (e.g. Finoteselam)
come to their working place and buy products to sell further to other places.
There is an open public bamboo market in Debermarkos town, the East Gojam zone capital.
Products are received from tow known sources: Enjibara and Robgebeya markets. One of the
trader interviewed (his name is Tibebu, 24 years old) at the market places said that the products
from Enjibara area are of low quality compared to those from Robgebeya. He makes about 200
birr turn over and 40 birr profit a week. Among the many products he sells, one is the basket used
for keeping raw meet by rural communities. As it is well aerated it helps to keep meat unspoiled
for some time. The significant range of product price (for instance from 2 birr to 18 birr for
enjera basket) shows that he sells products of varying quality and size. Tibabu has also a
wholesale customer who comes from North Shoa zone of Oromia region (Gohatsion) and buys
products from him.
Ato Amare, a farmer carrying bamboo products to Lumame town from an area near Debremarkos.
Some farmers were seen carrying products they have produced themselves. For instance Ato Amare
was met on the road when he was carrying 12 pieces of enjera-baskets from a place near
Debremarkos to Lumame town. He started the journey on foot on Thursday to reach the market on
Saturday. He made the baskets himself at the rate of 2 pieces per day. He was expecting to sell the
piece at 8 birr per piece. Bamboo products producers have also the chance to sell the products at
road side selling points, especially to travelers who take products to distant places.
During this survey, in Kassa-Chawasa kebele, average prices for bamboo products were: 3 seats
chair (15 birr), shelf 915 -20 birr), mat (12 birr), basket (3–8 birr).
Some community members are engaged in collection of products and sell to other areas like Humera,
Mathema (Amhara region), Wellega (Oromia region), Adwa, and Shire (in Tigray Region). There
is also some export activities across border to Sudan. For instance, a mat bought at 4 birr in this
community is sold to higher prices (12 -20 birr) in Humera area. However, it was reported bamboo
products trading activities are constrained by lack of capital. There is no need for trading licenses.
Along the trade route some tax is paid, in Gonder and Tikil Dingay.
There are some licensed traders who supply raw bamboo to Addis Ababa. They also take
transport splited culms for fire wood to Addis Ababa. Traders prefer straight culms as
better quality than the bent ones.
3.5.4. Outlook: Where will they stand in three years from now?
Hearing about the current bamboo development project, the community members have high
expectations. They were told that bamboo will be developed to contribute to the improvement of
their livelihood. Hence, there is a plan to start training centre and a bamboo workshop here.
23 Community members at discussion, Kassa-Chawssa kebele, Enjibara area. 3 of them are women.
Motivated by the information about the future of bamboo sector development, some community
members have even the intention to shift from other land uses to planting more bamboos. They are
encouraged to better manage the plantation, and efficiently use the culms for higher value purposes.
This expectation from the side of the community members shows that the bamboo project should be
able to meet its commitments. In marketing the community members wish to have marketing
cooperatives to facilitate the marketing and bamboo business. It is noted that land scarcity in
Enjibara area is one of the constraints to expanding bamboo production.
3.6. Road side bamboo processors and traders in Bahir Dar
In some road side corners of Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara region, there are some small bamboo
businesses. They feel that they are doing this business in a difficult condition – under sun heat, no
shelter. Some of them are buying traditional products like chairs, mats from elsewhere (Awi zone)
and resale to others. Wubatu, 18 years old, is working on products purchase and resale activities
together with his brother. They do also make some products from the raw bamboo they buy from
others who bring to Bahir Dar or go to rural arras and collect themselves. Lack of appropriate and
permanent working premise is one of the challenges the two young boys and others in bamboo
business are facing. They were recently displaced from their former working place, which could also
be informally occupied, by the kebele administration and now work also in a temporary site.
Roadside bamboo products traders in Bahir Dar.
This group of young boys says that if they could be trained including on how to design better
products, and get appropriate tools, they hope to work more on bamboo products. They would even
be willing to share some cost of such training. If one of their colleagues is trained they would learn
from him. However, they are skeptical about group or cooperative works on bamboo. Because of the
capacity differences, family size, and economic status, they consider working in group as a difficult
one. The young bamboo workers interviewed at this road side working place are active and are liable
to information and change that would promote the bamboo business.
Among the road side bamboo producers, some come from rural areas with their own raw materials or
bought from others to temporarily process into bamboo products, sell them and go back home.
Ato Adame Bogale, 49, temporarily produces bamboo products in Bahir Dar. He comes from Enjibara, 120 km
away from Bahir Dar.
Ato Adame Bogale is coming from Awi zone to Bahir Dar twice a year. He has his own bamboo at
home. He brings his own raw bamboo and also buys some from others and produces some products
during his one month stay in Bahir Dar. After selling the products he goes back to his farm village.
His products are enjera basket (10 birr), bread basket (8 birr), table for “road side shopper” (25 birr),
and mat (9 birr). He uses simple tools like sickle.
3.7. Bamboo Management: opinions of Experts at the Regional and Woreda BOARD
Discussion was also made with the experts at the bureau of agriculture and rural development, both
the regional bureau in Bahir Dar and woreda office in Banja Shikudad woreda. According to the
expert at woreda office, the woreda is known to be 96% suitable for production/cultivation of
bamboo. The bamboo resource base in Enjibara area is, however, dwindling because of the fact that
many landless people are depending on its processing and trading for their livelihood. Regarding
quality of products like mats, there is a problem of storage before producers sell them to other
traders. Since mats are kept at selling points along the road side, they are exposed to rust. Although
advice was given to the producers about better storage, it did not work much.
The expert also noted that there is a perception /altitudinal problem about bamboo cultivation.
Framers believe that bamboo grows only in homestead on fertile soils. Their extension division feels
that it needs to convince farmers that it can also be grown in sloppy lands by improving the fertility
It also noted at the woreda that although tax is paid at the checkpoints where the bamboo products/
and the raw culms leaves the regional boundary, there is no data on the volume flown out.
Experts in the division of Forest and Agro-forestry at the regional Bureau of Agriculture and Rural
Development say that in many places in the region including areas of West Gojam and South Wollo,
zone bamboo grows in various forms of management- in homesteads, around gullies and at farm
boundaries. The management system is extremely traditional without much appreciation of its
economic value and application of modern technologies. The bureau does not have even an extension
and management package for bamboo as an important resource.
The experts are of the opinion that “there is some wastage of the bamboo resource as business and
marketing activities are growing fast before adequately work is done on the production and
management plan of bamboo”. They are also of the opinion that “not adequate research has been
done on bamboo, either”. The experts also feel worry about the utilization of the lowland bamboo,
which cannot be easily replaceable.
The demand (also threat) for bamboo is rising as its leaves are useful for livestock fodder and, hence,
encroachments have been increasing. Also a wildfire is one of its threats. The experts also see the
chance of expanding bamboo cultivation to many areas in the region including the degraded highland
areas. For this they see that it is important to know how the current bamboo project operates in the
region. The following areas are major issues noted by experts during the discussion:
Market should be a major intervention. Value-adding is important so that bamboo will not
be wasted for low value products. Value-adding is lacking.
Marketing network is essential to promote the business.
The lowland bamboo is good for pulp and paper production.
There is no management plan for bamboo. All are running to exhaust the available
resource. Care must be taken to sustain the bamboo resource basis. “Management plan
should come before the market plan”.
3.8. Research in Bamboo Utilization: the Activities of a Wood utilisation Research
3.8.1. Mandates and activities
The Wood Utilization Research Centre is a unit of the Ministry of Agriculture in charge of research
and development in the wood sector including bamboo. Built up with Swedish assistance some two
decades ago the centre avails itself of good basic machinery and equipment. However, it is lacking
the operational funds to run a regular R&D programme.
In this context, Dr Seyoum, a researcher at the center, sees the need to learn more on appropriate
technologies of bamboo propagation. While tissue culture for bamboo propagation might yet be a
very remote target, it would be time to develop protocols for large scale vegetative propagation,
which is not being practiced in Ethiopia yet.
Dr. Seyoum Kelemewerk, Researcher at WURC.
The lowland bamboo (Oxythenantera abyssinica) might be suitable for paper production; however,
further research into the fibre length of this species has to validate this assumption. Dr Seyoum
questions the “1.000.000 ha of bamboo resources in Ethiopia” that is being cited since the LUSO
consultant report; a strong in-migration is exercising a continued pressure on the bamboo resources
in the lowlands, estimated to account for 80% to the national bamboo resources.
Forest resources representing only 2.5-3.0% of the national territory cannot meet the growing
demand for wood (fuelwood, construction timber, timber for furniture…). Out of the 50 odd species
of Eucalyptus found in Ethiopia, three appear to be particularly suited for the production of particle
boards. It yet has to be researched if the same holds true for bamboo, but research done by Dr
Seyoum provides strong indications that the bamboos in the Central Highlands have all required
properties to make them a promising candidate for fiber-board production (esp. as they have a low
density and thus require less glue when the fibers are processed into boards).
A continuous supply of raw bamboo to feed an even small to medium size fiber board factory is a
major concern. Generally, people in Ethiopia have little appreciation for bamboo as a raw material,
especially in the production of furniture. Much of the demand for bamboo products is due to
expatriates living in the country and equipping themselves with cheap furniture for their 2-4 years
assignments in the country.
A major quality issue, hence, determinant for market promotion, in the furniture making is the
frequent use of bamboo that is not mature enough and not appropriately dried. Young and fresh
bamboo is easy to bend and to work on, the furniture made of it looks appealing at the time it is sold.
Due to its high starch content it is prone to termite attacks and fungi, especially as no chemical
treatment is done at the same time.
The production of Laminated Bamboo Lumber (LBL) is another interesting option that should be
Laminated Bamboo Boards assembled from Y. alpina segments (on the left) has been produced on a trial
basis with simple, locally available technology; test to establish its mechanical strength are yet to be done; to
produce bamboo-cement composite such as the one towards the right a German appropriate technology is
Ethiopia experiences an unprecedented construction boom that will continue to absorb large
quantities of wood/bamboo for: the actual construction works (scaffoldings, wooden beams), for
interior applications (partition boards, ceilings…) and for flooring (bamboo parquet). Currently,
bamboo parquet from Malaysia and Indonesia can be found at retailer shops in Addis for about US$
50/m². Plywood and MDF is being imported mainly from Italy, Greece and the Middle East (the
latter acting as intermediary between European/Asian producers and Ethiopian importers).
According to WURC, at present, there is only one small unit producing particle boards in Ethiopia. It
uses German technology that has been imported about 45 years ago. While the productive capacity of
this factory is 7,000 m³/year, the total demand is estimated to be as high well above 40,000m³
(production of this company plus imports of over 35,000 m³).
Building up its own board manufacturing industry, Ethiopia could substitute sizeable amounts of
imported boards. Based on a model calculation of Dr Seyoum the machinery for such a unit would
cost US$ 1.8-2.m (when bought second hand in Europe). The total operational costs (including
purchase of used equipment, land lease, salaries and raw material) would amount to US$ 4.8m in the
first year (the period required to get the unit set up and running at full capacity). Such a medium-size
installation would require 1200 m³ of raw bamboo culms yearly to produce 620 m³ of particle boards.
Builders of floors for pick-ups, lorries and busses are another important target group that will value
bamboo for its remarkable impact resistance. Dr Seyoum estimates that a model installation for the
production of bamboo LBL requires an initial investment that would not exceed US$ 30.000.
Another product of which prototypes have been produced by Dr Seyoum at the WURC is bamboo-
cement particle board. Standard-sizes boards made with this technology can even be used for outside
walls (an application for which bamboo otherwise is not suited!).
Samples of dried Y. alpina (Ethiopias “highland bamboo”), ready to be shipped to China for testing of the inherent
natural properties of Ethiopian bamboo for a series of products
The WURC has prepared bamboo samples that are to be sent to China for the production and
extensive testing of various industrial applications (flooring, boards, paper…). The standard
properties for which bamboo needs to be tested for its suitability in the production of boards are: 1)
specific gravity, 2) buffering capacity, and 3) contact angle (to determine gluing and surface
finishing properties). Testing for these properties has to be done with fresh bamboo and the bamboo
to be sent to China is mature and dried, already. This could limit the plausibility of these tests. The
major concern about having the tests done in China, however, is that the Chinese testers might not
share the full results of their investigations or that they might exploit findings for their own interest.
The production of particle boards in Ethiopia is further impeded by the lack of appropriate glues
(this, together with pressure, being the most important “ingredient” in board production): The usual
glues such as uria-formaldehydrate (UF), phenol-formaldehydrate (PF) and melamin-urea-
formaldehydrate (MUF) have to be imported and have a shelf life of only one year. The production
of these glues is a complex and expensive process; however, it bearing in mind that Ethiopia is the
second most populated country in Africa it might be worth considering to set up such a facility here.
This industry could serve as a distributor of industrial glues to all of Eastern Africa. But with
European investments directed rather to the Rep. of South Africa or Kenya (with a much lower
population!) this remains a distant hope.
3.8.2. Outlook: Where will WURC stand in three years from now
With a weak financial endowment and no opportunities to generate own funds, the future of research
in the centre looks bleak. Occasional support from sources like the CFC Bamboo Project will allow
researchers to look into specific questions (like the upcoming tests to be done in China to determine
the inherent natural properties of Ethiopian bamboo and its suitability for series industrial
applications). A comprehensive R&D on bamboo cannot be carried out on a continuous and self-
4. VALUE ADDED IN THE BMABOO SECTOR IN ETHIOPIA
As it is true with majority of the primary agricultural products, little is done in terms of value added
in the bamboo sector, too. The feature of the current and potential value-adding in the bamboo sector
in Ethiopia may be represented as shown in Figure 2, predominantly the bamboo resource is being
utilized for traditional products commonly used by local community in their day to day life activities.
At this level the value-added is low. It is only recently that some relatively modern bamboo
processing, marketing and trading enterprises came up.
The raw bamboo collection and trading as well as products trading are practiced across regional and
some national/central markets. Relatively modern workshops, some bamboo yards and traders are
involved. Following some skill training intervention by the Chinese, Japanese or the Development
Agency for Handicrafts and Small Industries (DAHSI) training centers, the workshops owners got
the skill necessary to process bamboo into some marketable products. The products include – chairs,
tables, sofas, shelf, fruit and flower baskets, lamp shades, etc. A relatively better value –added is
involved at this level. However, improvement in quality of such products largely remains an issue.
Other studies and experts argue that bamboo craftsmen are not producing quality products due to
lack of knowledge on basic properties of bamboo, lack of training and inadequate working facilities.
The workshops do not have display centers near important market points like tourist destination
areas, big hotels, restaurants and super markets. They rather sell at their workshops or at the road
Some pervious studies recommended (e.g. Joerg, 2006) that for better performance of value-adding
and benefit in the bamboos sector the existing design of bamboo workshops’ handicrafts need to be
urgently shifted to more western tests from the Asian design, and quality control must be
Figure 2: Schematic representation of value-added in the Ethiopian bamboo sector
bamboo pulp +
bamboo pulp +
paper producers [?]
bamboo furniture +
local regional national international
Bamboo Marketing Study in 10
Following the growing attention given to the sector towards realizing its potential socio-economic
benefits, it is hopped that more investments in the sector will be coming up. Already few modern
bamboo enterprises are under establishment including the factory that was launched in early 2007
with the business objective of production of bamboo curtain, bamboo floor and tooth pick. A large
scale pulp and paper manufacturing in partnership with Indian paper companies is expected to be
launched in summer of 2007. Such enterprises use modern business plan, better resource
management, and apply modern technology in processing. These businesses supply their products for
both domestic and international markets. They are businesses that represent a higher value add in the
5. Structural weaknesses and potential development and uses of bamboo sector
Based on the assessments made in the area of marketing in bamboo sector in Ethiopia, it is possible
to highlight some major weaknesses as well as development potentials for the sector.
A largely unknown resource base: although some fragmented data exists, mostly citing inventories
that were taken many years back, it can be said that the knowledge of the bamboo resource base
is much limited. In the existing database, the area of small individual bamboo plots on farm land
has not been included in the inventory because of its patchy nature and difficulty to assess. On
the other hand, too little is known about the rate at which those bamboo resources have been
cleared to make way for agricultural use of the land. At present, there is no substantiated estimate
that could serve as a basis for investors, wishing to build up large-scale industries using bamboo
biomass (pulp and paper, bamboo boards).
Poor networking amongst stakeholders: as part of the general lack of proper and enforceable land
use system in the country, the bamboo resource has been a victim of the coordination gap
between different sectors including agriculture, resettlement, forestry, livestock, etc. Resource
waste has been the result of a low recognition and awareness of its value.
Weak linkages between producers and markets: there is no system established to strongly link the
bamboo raw material and products producers to markets. There has not been a strong database on
the nature, volume, and location of products that would serve the marketing of products. In the
same way there has not been a product marketing study that reveals the nature and pattern of
demand, location of the markets and their characteristics to guide producers.
Little experience in (mass-) propagation: so far bamboo producers follow their traditional way of
propagation. It is questionable whether this kind of propagation would accommodate the supply
needs of large-scale processing if it emerges in the country.
Poor capital access of the cottage industries: the existing small-scale bamboo enterprises have very
low level of capital at their disposal. Such low capital availability and low access to credit
significantly hinders up-scaling of cottage industries in bamboo sector.
Highly individualised sales of raw bamboo by farmers: there is no coordinated and group activity
from the side of the farmers to supply raw bamboo for the users. It means that there is no
formalised supply system, bamboo seen as an “occasional commodity”.
Low level tradition to promote the private sector: there has been a strong orientation towards
government lead initiatives to promote furniture and handicraft cottage industries in the country.
There was no effort made to encourage the private sector to also take such initiatives.
Slow progress in promoting the bamboo sector: the same ideas for the promotion of bamboo keep
on being repeated, but especially the state agencies are not in a position to take them up and
implement them. The plans, ideas and recommendations about the development of the sector
were already there in 1990s. As in all other sectors, Ethiopia has to further move away from its
interventionist past and towards an increasingly market-based economy; the bamboo sector is no
exception to this; State-led initiatives of the past to promote the bamboo sector never went
beyond creating a modest bamboo sector under the close supervision of government agencies
Bamboo stigma: bamboo still has the stigma of being a poor man’s timber; even researchers and
decision makers who are aware of the virtues and beauties of bamboo admit that they do not have
bamboo furniture themselves, but would rather go for the conventional products with “modern”
An established resource base: the country is known to have a large resource base. In addition,
according to experts view propagation and expansion to many suitable ecologies seems to be
possible. For this potential to realize, it needs concerted effort to make it one of the high value
cash crop for farmers and future investors.
Bamboo highly suitable for conservation and bio-engineering: as it is well established elsewhere
where the bamboo sector has been well developed, bamboo has lots of applications including
nature conservation, and industrial uses. Based on research and adequate business development
such applications would help the country to utilize bamboo for bigger social and economic
Good accessibility of bamboo growing regions: following the growing public investments in road
and communication infrastructure in the country, the bamboo growing areas are within a
reasonable reach to the market.
Good properties of bamboo: the fact that bamboo is not perishable and self-regenerating makes it a
resource of good quality.
Bamboo is a resource that can meet important local needs: bamboo can be regarded as a
contributor to cover local needs in basic construction materials, fuel, building materials, etc.
Bamboo processing can have effects on other raw materials: in bamboo processing, particularly
as seen at the ETTC, other raw materials like textile, wood, and leather are also used. It
shows expanded multi-sectoral effects if the bamboo sector can be promoted.
6 DEVELOPMENT PATH FOR BAMBOO SECTOR IN ETHIOPIA
6.1. Focus on domestic markets: import substitution rather than world market
One aspect of bamboo sector business development is to decide whether focus should be on meeting
the domestic demand for bamboo products or designing products for international market. Meeting
the needs of export market calls for competitiveness in both product price and quality. There has not
been much experience in the trade sector, either. According to the Ethiopian Forestry Action Plan
(EFAP, 1994), data on export and import of forest products is scarce. The value of imports of
products is minuscule compared to total imports. According to this report, the last data available is
for 1985 and then, including pulp and rubber products, import of forest products was only 1% of total
import. In fact, there are still some imports of forest products. From the discussion at the FEMSEDA
as well as Forest and Forest Products Marketing Department of the MOARD there is no study done
on Bamboo Products destination for Ethiopia. It is also reported that Ethiopia did not export bamboo
or rattan products between 1989 and 2000, except for a surprisingly large US-$1.5 million dollars
worth in 1998, all of which went to other East African Nations (Melaku, 2004). The recent data
obtained from the Customs Authority data (see Annex table D) shows that trade activities in bamboo
has been minimal. A report by Eric (1997) also noted that although there is the unregulated export of
bamboo to Sudan from lowland bamboo areas of the Benishagul-Gumuz regional state not much is
known about this trade.
It is to be noted that at the moment it would be very difficult if not impossible to compete with other
countries like the Southeast Asian. FEMSEDA is seeing some emerging opportunities in European
markets for handlooms for furniture. The bamboo sector needs product development through training
and improved skills, and promotion to get adequate market share. FEMSEDA is promoting to create
and strengthen the link between product producers and exporters. They have good experiences in
There is a strong argument that if Ethiopian bamboo products is to be exported, it is going to
compete with other strong products like from China. Hence, it is recommended that at the start focus
should be made on strengthening and expanding local markets. However, some small quantity of
quality products, for instance, for weaving, products like lampshades may be competitive for
European countries markets. Given the fact that both the quality of products and productivity are
low, at least in the short to medium term, it is less likely that Ethiopian bamboo products coming
from the cottage industries will be competitive enough for export markets. The current performance
in bamboo export compared to import is insignificant (see Annex table D) Hence, it is logical to
think of a development strategy for import substitu
eucalyptus trees has been noted. Hence, the large eucalyptus plantations of more than 1.5 million ha
(owned by the state, communities and private people) have helped to ease some of the problems.
Table 6: Current and projected demand for wood products (million m3s)
Year Industrial Construction Fuel wood Total
1992 0.4 2.1 44.9 47.4
2000 0.7 2.7 58.4 61.8
2005 0.9 3.2 68.4 72.5
2010 1.3 3.8 79.7 84.6
2014 1.6 4.3 88.9 94.8
Source: EFAP 1994.
Estimates by EFAP shows that the need of fuelwood and timber (of minor dimensions such as
construction wood) are 1.2 m³ per head. The report indicates that with a total population of 70m in
the year 2004 the total demand is around 85million m³. It is further indicated that the existing
eucalyptus plantation only covers a fourth of the required fuelwood and construction timber. EFAP
estimated that the demand for wood and woody biomass products is projected to increase roughly at
the rate of population growth. It is estimated that in 2014, the demand for wood products will be in
the range of 90 to 95 million m3s. While the largest share of the household energy supply, (ESAP
estimates that 2/3 of the household energy consumption comes from woody biomass) comes from
biomass energy, it has also partly lead to a rampant deforestation and environmental degradation in
the country. Bioenergy: bamboo charcoal and bamboo fuelwood can be developed to contribute to
meeting part of the ever increasing fuel energy demand.
Bamboo for supporting sticks and wrapping material in flower and vegetable farms: some
potential applications of bamboo could be using as supporting sticks in vegetable farms (like potato
producers), as a wrapping material for flowers. Currently, the Ethiopian flower farms grow roses
which do not need supporting sticks/material. Also, to use bamboo products as a wrapping material it
should be so fine that the flowers and even their stems (in the case of roses) will not be
injured/scratched 2 . Experts in the sector argue that a technology/processing that will produce fine
materials from bamboo is needed to use bamboo for this purpose.
Bamboo cement and Bamboo boards: research and techniques on utilization of bamboo for
production of bamboo boards need to be strengthened. Experts at the WURC say that as early as
Personal communication with one of the Rose Flower growers around Addis Ababa.
1992, the center had presented a proposal for a “Bamboo Research and Development Project but has
not been able to secure funding for it ever since. The Wood Utilization and Research Centre
(WURC) has been engaged in the development of bamboo based materials for more than a decade. In
1993, researchers at the centre started a research project on “Lowland Bamboo as Concrete Re-
enforcement”. 5 types of cement re-enforced bamboo boards have been developed, but flaws with
this technology (shrinkage and lacking form stability) have lead to the discontinuation of the project.
Pulp and Paper: production of pulp and paper from bamboo is one potential to exploit the resource
at an economies of scale. In the efforts made to develop the sector so far, an option which has been
neglected is the use of bamboo for paper making in cottage industries. From review of the literature
it is noted that the idea of using bamboo to produce pulp and paper at an industrial level is not new. It
has been floated as early as 1959 by Mooney who suggested to establish the lowland bamboo from
Benishangul-Gumuz (then: Wellega) Region for this purpose. The idea has later been taken up by the
German forestry advisor v. Breitenbach (1961), but has never been implemented.
According to a key informant, expert in wood technology, bamboo being a hard material, its cooking
time requirement is higher and could be costly for the existing paper factory in Ethiopia 3 . This is a
similar challenge for the Indian paper manufacturing, according to the expert. There is only one
paper factory located in Wonji, about 100 km East of Addis Ababa. The factory is said to be
importing raw material from aboard for paper making. The process involves changing wood into soft
fiber. Since machinery for this purpose is not available at the factory, the factory imports a semi-
processed soft fiber for paper making. The factory itself is very old. The prospect for utilizing
bamboo for paper making in Ethiopia depends on the extent of improving the technology and
technical capacity. Recently an investment venture 4 has a plan to start paper and pulp making form
bamboo. The plan is to export the raw bamboo from the western low lands (Benishangul-Gumuz
region) to India for the first two project years and then start processing bamboo into paper after a
appropriate machines are imported and installed within two years period. That would give a chance
for better and large scale utilization of bamboo resources in the country.
According to the recent media report (Fortune News Paper, March 4, 2007) this company called
Land and Sea Development Ethiopia (LSDE) Plc, is a foreign investment that is spending close to 30
million dollars, the largest investment among the 150 projects registered by the Benishangul
Dr. Seyoum Kelemework, Researcher at the Wood Utilization Research center, Addis Ababa.
Personal communication with the General Manager of the company at the 2nd Regional Steering Committee meeting on
Bamboo held in Awassa during 15-18 January 2007, Ethiopia.
Regional State Investment Bureau to date. The company promises to bring better future by creating
jobs for 9,000 residents in the region. In return, the regional state has agreed to give 400,000 ha of
lease free concessions to the vast resources of bamboo plant abundantly available in the region. The
company aims to transform agro-forestry development in Ethiopia. It has developed a business
model to harvest the bamboo for export during its first phase, and re-plantation and installation of a
paper-mill when it completes its second and third phases, respectively. It has signed five-year
contracts worth 276 million dollars to supply 6 of the largest paper manufacturers in India. Theses
contracts require 30,000 tons of bamboo from the region to India almost every month. The company
will soon buy 163 trucks with trailers, while two memorandums of understandings were signed with
a Chinese company to install pulp-mills in Assosa and Adama (Nazareth). Export will begin in July
or August 2007.
7. Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
7.1. Summary and conclusions
Although Ethiopia is known to have one of the largest bamboo resources in the African continent, the
contribution of the sector to the national economy is minimal. There is no adequate data on value of
the sectors’ contribution to GDP. At the bamboo tree producing communities’ level, the resource is
an important part of the faming systems and livelihood. Bamboo serves as cash and an insurance
crop whereby the farm households resort to bamboo sales to buy food and meet some cash needs
during the months of food and cash shortage. Engagement in bamboo export trade is almost non-
existent. In terms of value generation, even for the relatively better organized handicrafts producing
public enterprises (the Ethiopian Tourist Trade Enterprise and Federal Medium and Small
Enterprises Development Agency), data of the last two years shows that their annual sales revenue
has been less than 100, 000 Birr5 . The major causes for this low performance of bamboo sector in the
national economy, and minimum contribution to the market and business may be summarized as
The large landmass of bamboo plantation, specially the low land bamboo, has been given less
attention. It can be said that such lands were largely considered as ‘waste’ lands, leading to
clearances for other land uses including resettlements.
Research and technology development in bamboo processing and utilization were given marginal
The low tradition of bamboo consumption due to low quality products, poor promotion and low
knowledge base about bamboo and its products.
The strong focus on government lead initiatives to promote furniture and handicraft cottage
industries has undermined the potential role of the private sector. Recently and gradually, however,
important private sector investment initiatives in the sector are emerging.
Marketing of the bamboo products is very traditional and at low level of development. Marketing
activities are taking place by different entities including the ETTE shops, FEMSEAD and other small
private enterprises in Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Awassa and the rural bamboo producing areas. The
market system is not broad based and integrated over geographic locations, sales points and
customers, etc. In the regions, the local community members produce bamboo handicrafts and sell
the products either by themselves or sell to local traders who take the products to the next nearby
markets. The local products are largely traditional and consumed by the communities themselves for
1 USD = 8.8 ET Birr.
their regular agricultural and home activities. Few products are taken to distant markets. For instance
bamboo mats are taken to coffee growing regions (used for drying coffee).
The existing bamboo based cottages are largely informal manufacturing with informal markets:
baskets and simple furniture. The emerging bamboo cottages in the major cities, particularly in Addis
Ababa, are of two board categories. A relatively modern segment is being organized by small
workshops. Mostly, the owners/workers have been exposed to some skill training. Their designs are
relatively modest and seem to be evolving including products for higher income groups and foreign
visitors. Example, they produce high priced and attractive bamboo sofa, bed, lampshades. Such small
enterprises are mainly found in Addis Ababa.
The other group comprises of small handicrafts workshops owned by mostly migrants from the
bamboo producing rural communities. They get raw materials form rural areas by themselves or
through other collectors. They are engaged in production of low quality products mostly furniture,
household items and others. These ones do not use other inputs like varnish and fixers except
bamboo culms, rent of land and labor cost. They aim at low income consumers. As raw materials
quality observations, drying and preservation are not much considered in such handcrafts works, the
quality of products and their durability is mostly low. The producers sell their products on the road
ad moving from place to place. Improved working condition and quality of products needs
investments which does seem to affordable by these groups. They are not in a position to compete
with the modern bamboo producers. i.e. they deal with different market segments. These kinds of
producers are found in urban areas like Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, and Awassa.
In recent years, government enterprises (the Ethiopian Tourist Trade Enterprise (ETTE) and Federal
Medium and Small Enterprises Development Agency, both in Addis Ababa) are doing a relatively
better organized processing and marketing of bamboo products. Even then they are still limited in
quality improvement, standardization of products and market promotion. In bamboo processing,
particularly as seen at the ETTC handicrafts centre, other raw materials like textile, wood, and
leather are also used. It shows a potential multi-sectoral effect if the bamboo sector is developed.
There are product price variations in same locations and for ‘similar’ types of products. Product price
variations could be due to the relative quality differences. According to the opinion from EETE,
others producers may sell products at lower prices since they do not have much overhead costs, do
not worry of preservation and drying of the raw material. However, in Addis Ababa as well as other
towns and rural bamboo producing areas “similar” products are sold ate different prices at same
market levels and locations. It implies that market information flow is very much limited. The
bamboo marketing system is largely informal, less connected. This makes it difficult to analyze the
value-chains, price formation along marketing channels. In Addis Ababa itself, taking 35 types of
bamboo products produced by both the ETTE and REMSEDA workshops, on average there is a 10
birr price difference of these ‘similar’ products between the two enterprises.
Two rural communities known for bamboo production have been selected and included in this study.
These are Hagreselam in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State, located at
370 km South of Addis Ababa, and Enjibara at 435 km North of Addis Ababa in the Amhara
At the bamboo growing rural areas the farmers have their own bamboo lots which they manage,
propagate and harvest. In Hagreselam bamboo is an important part of the farming systems that are
based on the cultivation of enset and a wide range of vegetables as well as the production of milk for
cash incomes. So far, bamboo use in the area has mainly been for domestic purposes of local
farmers. In Enjibara, the highland farming system is poorly productive, and poverty is rampant.
Hence, the community largely depends on sales of raw bamboo and some handicrafts. Farmers use
the bamboo resource as their bank account; bamboo provides a ready source of cash (to buy food in
times of shortage or to purchase inputs like fertilizer and meet their immediate cash needs).
Majority of the farmers sell the raw bamboo culms, and are not involved in bamboo processing. In
Hagreselam, at the group discussion held with community members, discussants say that the bamboo
supply has gradually declined as a result of the incidence of flowering and eventual death of the plant
in their areas. In Both study areas, there are lots of traditional bamboo products which are produced
and used within the communities. The traditional products are part of the household tools,
implements and furniture used in daily life and activities. Some community members are also
engaged in producing some products, using own family labour, and sell them at local markets and
roadside sales points. The buyers are travelers like car drivers who pass through the communities.
There are also few products which are ‘exported’ outside the communities by local traders.
Shortage of land and increasing pressure (caused by rising population) to convert the remaining land
into crop land (agriculture) is seen by farmers as the biggest threat that bamboo cultivation is facing
these days. Further more, the informality of the bamboo trade is seen to have caused high
fluctuations in prices and demand.
Culturally, in the rural communities, the processing of bamboo so far has been an occupation for men
only, bamboo being believed to be a “hard” material that has to be worked on by men.
Along the sales points at the studied rural areas, the “same” type of product has different prices. This
is another indication of how highly informal the marketing of bamboo products is. It is difficult to
follow the products channel from the bamboo producing communities to the consumer centers at the
major towns since the product market is disconnected, i.e. difficult to know sources of products.
At the studied rural areas, generally, prices for bamboo products are higher during dry season.
Example, in Hagereselam, during or just after the coffee harvest prices are comparatively better than
in the rainy season. The coffee farmers buy mats for coffee drying and use the cash they have just
earned to replace household goods.
The means of local transport for products is rudimentary. For instance, in Enjibara area, farmers are
seen carrying the bamboo products and travel 2 to 3 days to bring the products to the next markets.
They rarely use public transport or trucks as they think could be expensive and lower their profit.
Although both study communities have good road connections to the regional capitals and even to
Addis Ababa, the value chain is not yet connected to the extra-regional trade. Even the trade with the
few bamboo products is only local.
The practice of grading raw materials is very weak and most basic. There is no standard developed
and used. Selection of raw martial is largely based on a traditional way. There is a traditional
preference of highland bamboo and low bamboo for different products. For instance, the low land
bamboo is preferred for making legs of chairs and sofas as it is has more strength. Some of the
aspects used in grading are: inter-node length of culm, thickness of culm, age of culm showing
maturity. Lack of standard or grades means there is a difficulty of comparing raw materials and
products for quality and pricing purposes.
From the consumers’ side, taking the country as a whole, the use of bamboo products is much less
known outside the bamboo producing areas. Bamboo still has the stigma of being a poor man’s
timber; even researchers and decision makers who are aware of the virtues and beauties of bamboo
admit that they do not have bamboo furniture themselves, but would rather go for the conventional
products with “modern” designs. Most people do not consider bamboo furniture as a durable product.
Hence, the demand is hindered by such consumer behavior partly due to lack of adequate
information on the potential quality and durability of the products. The few high priced furniture
products are predominantly bought by foreigners.
Experts consulted in the course of this study had the opinion that the utilization of the bamboo
product is not yet developed, and still seen as inferior product that is not well integrated in the
consumption and daily life. Experts have the opinion that although, following the emergence of a
middle class in urban areas like Addis Ababa, micro- enterprises of bamboo processing, mostly at the
household level are emerging, it needs a strong promotion and introduction of the bamboo products.
Regarding the resource basis, there is no adequate database that shows the current area of land and
condition of the bamboo resources. The available information is based on a data from the inventory
made by the GTZ many years back. Although there are figures quite often quoted, the total bamboo
area in Ethiopia remains unknown. Estimates made many years back show that the bamboo resource
area is about 1 million hectares. On the other hand, the rate at which those bamboo resources have
been cleared to make way for agricultural use of the land is not known. Forest and wood land areas
are still facing significant destruction in the country.
Most of the bamboo used for the cottage industries is the „farmers‘ bamboo“. Sales of raw bamboo
by farmers is highly individualised. As bamboo is seen as an “occasional commodity” no formalised
supply system exists. It can be said that sourcing at the current (low) level is not a major problem for
informal/cottage industries. No specific licensing system is required to collect bamboo from rural
producing community areas but there is royality to be paid. Sourcing is done either straight from
producers or through specialized timber yards in town.
Workshops like that of FEMSEDA in Addis Ababa get raw bamboo from many places including
Hagreselam, Arbegona and Maashaa (in SNNPR), and Illubabor in southwest (in Oromia state), and
Enjibara /Kosober in North (in Amhara Region). One of the problems of supply is said to be the
inability of farmers to supply quality raw material. The FEMSEDA Workshop makes on-farm
purchase and transports using its won trucks.
For the few bamboo yards in Addis Ababa, a highland bamboo comes from Enjibara area in Amhara
region, some 435 km north of Addis Ababa. According to some bamboo yard owners, there used to
be around 20 bamboo yards in Addis Ababa some 5-10 years ago, but many of them had to close
down because of rising costs for transport, which increased by more than 50% the last few years. The
increase (and the subsequent closing down of businesses) was very much pronounced last year, when
fuel costs went up. Also the demand for bamboo is said to be declining in recent years.
There are no bamboo traders (yards) nearby the bamboo growing areas (e.g. in Awassa and Bahir
Dar town). Rather there are some in Addis Ababa. It shows that the supply channel is very much
localized and confined. The bamboo yards in Addis Ababa are engaged in multiple activities of
collecting the raw bamboo from the growing areas, production of some low quality handicrafts, and
retail and wholesale of raw bamboo. As observed in the few bamboo yards in Addis Ababa, the
annual volume of supply and does not exceed 2 truck loads or 1600 culms per year in one case, and
up to 7 truck loads in the second case). In recent years, transport cost is becoming a serious and
limiting problem for the activities of the bamboo yards. The raw bamboo prices vary from yard to
yard in Addis Ababa. For the bamboo yards, lack of good storage space is another problem. Bamboo
supply is seasonal. Between March and June no bamboo is cut, because bamboo is sprouting at this
time, knowledge also held by farmers.
There is limited product diversification and value-adding. The existing value adding system in the
bamboo sector is modest rudimentary, low-tech processing. Tools and implements used include
hack-saws, knives, drills and hammers. Value adding is mainly by investing time while skills and
level of training are still rudimentary. There have not been bamboo-based industries till very recent
ventures (one who started bamboo floor, curtain, and tooth pick production in early 2007) and
another large scale paper and pulp manufacturer to be launched in the summer of 2007. The later
company plans to export the raw bamboo to India for pulp and paper manufacturing.
Regarding prospects for export market, as it stands now, the low level of productivity of the
handicrafts sector combined with low products quality and diversification made it uncompetitive
when one thinks of export markets for the Ethiopian bamboo sector. i.e. competitiveness of Ethiopian
bamboo products in international markets will remain low. In this connection, FEMSEDA is seeing
some emerging opportunities in European markets for handlooms for furniture. However, the
bamboo sector needs product development through training and improved skills, better design and
promotion to get adequate market share.
With good business planning and bamboo resource development strategy in place, there are potential
product lines possible to develop from bamboo as experienced elsewhere in the countries that have
well developed their bamboo resources. Potential areas of product lines are bamboo for construction
(e.g. scaffold for building construction, roof covers, etc), production of bio-energy (bamboo
fuelwood and bamboo charcoal), pulp and paper manufacturing, packaging/wrapping materials.
Bamboo experts contacted in the study areas during the survey raised important concerns regarding
management and utilization of bamboo resources in Ethiopia. The experts are of the opinion that
“there is some wastage of the bamboo resource as business and marketing activities are growing
fast before adequate work is done on the production and management plan of bamboo”. They are
also of the opinion that “not adequate research has been done on bamboo, either”. The experts also
feel worry about the utilization of the lowland bamboo, which cannot be easily replaceable.
Major conclusions drawn:
The existing bamboo marketing system is largely informal. There is no connection and
integration of product markets across product sources at local level and central markets. The
fact that different prices are paid for ‘similar’ products in same location also testifies that the
market system is informal.
Most of the bamboo used for the cottage industries is the „farmers‘ bamboo“. Sales of raw
bamboo by farmers is highly individualised. As bamboo is seen as an “occasional
commodity” no formalised supply system exists.
Because of the discontinuity of bamboo market chain, and absence of product grading
system, it is difficult to analyze bamboo products price regime and value-chain properly.
The state-led initiatives of the past to promote the bamboo sector in Ethiopia never went
beyond creating a modest bamboo sector under the close supervision of government agencies
(like ETTE and FEMSEDA). So far the development of the private sector has been
Based on the analysis of the existing bamboo products marketing system, the following
recommendations are in order towards promoting the bamboo sector and improve the benefits for
national economy, processing enterprises and communities growing the plant:
9. Different ways of promoting bamboo products such as displays, activities at the trade fairs and
exhibitions, using brand ambassadors need to be implemented.
10. Middlemen and cooperative bamboo marketing at local level should be strengthened following
the example of cereals, coffee and other agricultural products marketing unions.
11. The value-chain so far is not linked to the national market. In this situation, the development of
local trading points along the road infrastructure and in small rural towns and big towns is
paramount. The existing handicraft culture (like grass weaving) as seen also in rural areas can
serve as the basis for the development of the bamboo sector.
12. There is also a need to organize the trade of raw bamboo. While there are many timber yards
selling eucalyptus poles along the road, there are no such one-stop selling points for bamboo.
13. Given the growing scarcity of energy sources, particularly a household energy supply, use of
bamboo as a biofuel with locals producing bamboo in out-grower schemes is another option that
should be seriously considered.
14. Promotional programmes should target the private sector by identifying those who are willing
and able to invest in bamboo development and supporting them (like those who are currently
preparing to make a major investment in the bamboo pulp production).
15. Farmers use traditional propagation methods. Hence, their way of propagation may not cop with
large consumption of bamboo if large-scale processing starts. Research works on propagation
methods should be strengthened and knowledge transferred to producers.
16. Focus on domestic markets: import substitution rather than world market penetration should be a
strategy. Given the fact that, with low quality and productivity, the Ethiopian bamboo products
remain uncompetitive in the international standards, it is recommended that at the start focus
should be on strengthening and expanding local markets. However, some small quantities of
quality products, for instance, weaving, products like lampshades from bamboo are thought to be
competitive for European countries markets.
17. The sourcing of bamboo culms in the many roadside furniture workshops is done on an
individual basis. Co-operation can be considered as essential way of organized supply amongst
the workshop owners. Buying larger quantities of bamboo culms they will be able to negotiate a
lower price. A cooperative buying of bamboo culms would also help reduce transportation costs.
Alternatively, timber/bamboo depots could organize the delivery to small carpenter workshops,
selling the bamboo at the doorstep of the micro-carpentry enterprises.
18. Experts in bamboo have a big worry that before proper management plan of the resource the
increasing bamboo business and marketing could lead to resource wastage and irreversible
destructions. Hence, invitations for investment in large-scale and modern bamboo processing
should be cautiously done as the resource could be easily depleted without proper propagation
methods of large-scale use in place.
19. The current project should seek to encourage collaboration with the private sector, especially the
new bamboo factory near Addis Ababa, so that bamboo culm producers would be able to supply
a semi-processed material for the factory. This will have two major benefits. First, it will enhance
value-adding at the local producers level. Second, it will have significant cost reduction effect for
the factory. Example, local level drying and splitting will reduce cost of transportation.
20. As one major aspect of raw material supply, the periodic flowering of many bamboo species
should be a matter of great concern for raw material supply in any strategy to promote bamboo
use and trade.
Breitenbach, F. (1961): Bamboo – a Source of Cellulose. In: Ethiopian Forestry Review, 1: 21-23.
EFAP (1994). Ethiopian Forestry Action Plan. Final Report. Volume II- The Challenges for
development. EFAP Secretariat, Addis Ababa.
Eric R. Boa (1997). Bamboo Management in Ethiopia. GTZ-Luso Consult Bamboo Study in
Joerg S. (2006). Technical Mission Report on the Existing Bamboo and Wood workshops on the
Premises of FeMSEDA. UNIDO, Addis Ababa.
Luso Consult (1997). Study on Sustainable Bamboo Management of Ethiopia, Final report.
(Volume I: Main Report).
Melaku Tadesse (2004). Bamboo and Rattan Trade Development in Ethiopia. Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Paper presented at the
International Training Workshop on Small Bamboo Daily Product Processing Technologies
and Machines, Zhejiang, P.R. China.
Mooney, H.F. (1959): A Report on the Bamboo Forests of Wallega Province (Ehiopia), with a
View to their Possible Utilization for Paper Pulp. Report of the Forestry Adviser, British
middle East Development Division. 8pp.
Raphael K., R. and Morris, M. (2000): A Handbook for Value Chain Research. Prepared for the
Seyoum Kelemework (2006). Technical report: on the Assessment of technical performances of
existing bamboo entrepreneurs workshop in three selected cities. Part Two. UNIDO, Addis
Fortune News Paper. (March 4, 2007). Vol. 7 No. 357. Addis Ababa.
A. Organizations/ Institutions and Enterprises Visited/Contacted
1. National Project Coordination Office, MOARD, Addis Ababa
2. FEMSEDA, Manager, Addis Ababa
3. FEMSEDA workshop, Trainees and Trainers Group from China
4. Ethiopian Tourist Trading Enterprise – a workshop and 2 display centres
5. Forest and Forest Products Marketing Department, MOARD, Addis Ababa
6. Two bamboo yards in Addis Ababa – Shola area , North part of the City
7. REMSEDA in Awassa, SNNPR
8. Workshop of REMSEDA in Awassa
9. Communities in Hagreselam Project Site, SNNPRS
10. Bamboo market points along the Awassa – Hagreselam route and Yirgalem town
11. REMSEDA, Bahir Dar, Amhara region
12. Forest and Agro-forestry Department, BOARD, Amhara
13. Department of Land Use Administration, Bureau of Agri. and RD, Banja Shikudad Woreda
14. Communities in Kassa-Chawassa kebele, Banja Shikudada Woreda, Amhara Region
15. Bamboo handicrafts producers in Kassa-Chawassa kebele, Banja Shikudada Woreda, Amhara
16. Bale 5 Sini P.L.C. (a new bamboo processing factory), Akaki - Dukam road, near Addis Ababa.
17. Land and Sea, a Paper and Pulp Factory to be launched
18. The 2 Regional Steering Committee Conference of the Eastern African Bamboo Project held
during 15 -18 January, 2007 in Addis Ababa and Awassa. Participation.
19. Forest and Forest Products Marketing Department, MOARD, Addis Ababa
20. Bureau of Agriculture and RD, Awassa, SNNPR.
21. MSE, Bahir Dar Town Administration, Amhara region
B. Individuals and groups contacted
Mr. Malaku Tadesse National Project Coordinator, MOARD, Addis Ababa
Mr. Kebede Shiferaw Director General, FEMSEDA, Addis Ababa
Dr. Fue FEMSEDA workshop, member of the trainer group from China
Mr. Gebrekidan Teklu Forest and Forest Products Marketing Department, MOARD, Addis
Mr. Legesse Haile Manager, REMSEDA in Awassa, SNNPR
Mr. Michael Workshop of REMSEDA in Awassa, SNNPR
16 community members Communities in Hagreselam project target site, SNNPR
Bamboo processors Bamboo market points along the Awassa – Hagreselam route
including Yirgalem town, SNNPR.
Mr. Wondwosen Bekele Agro-forestry expert, BOARD, Awassa, SNNPR
Mr. Alem Mengiste Small bamboo yard owner, Addis Ababa
Mr. Melese Minale Group leader, small bamboo ya
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Mr Tilahun Gemeshu Team Leader, Ethiopian Investment Agency Commission
Dr Seyoum Kelemework Senior Researcher. Bamboo & Wood-based Panel Boards Utilization
Specialist. Wood Utilisation Research Centre (WURC)
Mr Yemane Teka Wood and Bamboo Section Head, Workshop of the Ethiopian Tourist
Trading Enterprise (ETTE)
Mr Tesfai Mebrahtu Project Manager, Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources for Improved
Food Security (SUN) Programme, German Technical Cooperation. Addis
Dr Jürgen Greiling Senior Advisor Agro –processing. Support to Business Organizations and
their Access to Markets (BOAM). SNV – Netherlands Development
Dr. Tadesse Woldemariam Manager, Ethiopian Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF)
Mr. XXXX Owner, Land and Sea, a Paper and Pulp Factory (under formation)
Ato Tibebu, A 24 years old Bamboo products trader in Debremarkos.
Ato Amare Farmer interviewed while carrying bamboo products to Lumame
town from a place near Debremarkos (traveling 2 days)
Ato Adame Bogale A farmer from Awi zone who temporarily produce some bamboo
products in Bahir Dar.
D. Bamboo export and import activities in Ethiopia
Export of bamboo products from Ethiopia
Year Items exported Destination FOB (Birr)
2002 Bamboos United States 518.69
2002 Bamboos United States 24,906.72
2003 Bamboos Great Britain 98,717.17
2005 Bamboo Sofa Kenya 6,780.24
2005 Parts for Bamboo Sofa Kenya 1,480.63
2006 Wooden Boxes and Bamboo Articrafts United States 1,974.06
2007 Bamboo Lamp Shade Australia 1,267.80
Source: Ethiopian Customs Authority.
Bamboo import to Ethiopia
Year Imported Commercial description Country (Origin) CIF( Birr)
2000 Bamboos Kenya 937827.51
2001 Bamboos Thailand 2549.35
2002 Bamboos Saudi Arabia 613.99
2002 Bamboos Thailand 1013.45
2003 Bamboos China 103826.45
2004 Bamboos Skirting China 1,147.90
2004 Bamboos China 46886.3
2005 Bamboos Thin Bamboo China 92.89
2005 Bamboos Bamboo Flooring and China 33,607.11
2006 Bamboos Bamboo Flooring China 1,541.42
2006 Bamboos Bamboo Parquet China 178,575.44
2006 Bamboo Split Italy 398.26
Source: Ethiopian Customs Authority.
E. Illustrative photos
Bamboo is quite often used for traditional products. Marketing of such products provides significant employment and
income for young men (Debremarkos bamboo products market place, Amhara region).
As the sector is not yet widely recognized/ known, quite often local bamboo products traders have difficulty of finding
working premises. The young bamboo mats traders in Bahir Dar town (Amhara region) are confined to a roadside amidst
The existing handicrafts skill and know-how provides starting bases for better bamboo processing (Mansa junction,
Hagreselam area, SNNPR).
Bamboo can be promoted as a material for beautification of recreation centres (Tukul at Hagreselam private recreation
The development of bamboo sector may provide an opportunity to overcome the existing socio-economic problems
including unemployment. At the roadside on the way from Awassa to Hagreselam many young boys and girls are
engaged in trading (and also chewing) of Khat/t’chat (a shrub considered as a mild drug increasingly becoming a threat
for the young generation due to addiction to chewing and associated social malpractices and behavior in both urban and
rural areas of the country.