Bamboo farming in Uganda has transformed many lives of people in the country due to the potential market both within and outside the country. This is a business venture that will take you from earning a normal income from farming into a millionaire in a short period of time given you do enough research and manage your bamboo farm well. Bamboo farming was best known for its medicinal purposes in the Asian countries especially China and for the feeding of pandas until it was introduced into Uganda. There are no basic requirements for starting a bamboo farm for as long as you have the start-up capital, land, the bamboo seedlings, weather and a good team to care for the bamboo trees.
Marketing of bamboo
Although there sis a ready market for the products, you will need to first go into market research to find out the market price range, the clients who buy the bamboo straight from the garden and how to actively compete with the rest of the bamboo farmers and still get your profits. It will take you about three years before you get to harvest the bamboo trees and besides selling them to the direct market, you can as well add value to the bamboo by making bamboo products like charcoal, beer, matchsticks, and toothpicks, among others. You can as well make craft items and sell them to the desired market, especially tourists.
Bamboo plants are valuable and can get 100% profits back after harvest although the only downside of bamboo is that it takes about 3 to 4 years before you can get those profits. So you will need to be patient in order for you to enjoy these profits from bamboo farming.
Bamboo farming is long term project which needs a lot of care if you want to gain profits out of it and some of the things that you need to know about bamboos include the following:
Most of the bamboo value-added products are sold to China and a few European countries.
Bamboo is an extremely renewable plant that can be replanted for up to about 70 years.
The bamboo varieties that are planted in Uganda are drought resistant, disease and pest resistant and they require less inspection after planting.
The bamboo shoots are used as sauce by many locals in the country and due to its high mineral content, doctors highly advise that it be eaten since it is not fried and just boiled. Some of the nutrients found in the bamboo shoots include potassium, vitamins, dairy fibre and many more others.
Bamboo plants are used for medicinal value and act as bacterial and inflammatory remedies.
Bamboo helps prevent soil erosion
Bamboo shoots also act as manure and can be used as fodder for the animals.
Bamboo wood can be used for alternative things like making utensils, firewood and furniture.
How to start a bamboo farming business
Training and capital: Farmers need to acquire basic knowledge on how bamboo crops are cultivated, weeding, proper management and how they are harvested. After getting the necessary training, the next step is getting the required capital for starting the bamboo farming business. The capital should include money for purchasing the land, purchasing the bamboo seedlings, paying for labour, buying fertilizers and spraying using pesticides.
Acquisition of land and propagating of bamboo: the best soil for planting the bamboo is one that has a water retention capacity and has a PH of 5 to 7.5. Soil testing should be done on the land to find out whether it is suitable for bamboo planting and for the non-acidic soils, liming should be carried out. The land purchased should be big enough because bamboo needs a lot of space.
Get the best bamboo species on the market and then propagate them after acquiring land. You should buy from well-known suppliers and ask as many questions about the bamboo species you are buying and how to properly care for them. The bamboo seedlings should be planted with at least a spacing of 5 to 7 meters apart leaving space for the dense foliage created by the shoots.
There are two ways in which bamboo can be planted and these are the running bamboo farming and clumping bamboo farming.
Clumping Bamboo Farming
Clumping bamboo farming involves bamboo species which are non-invasive clustered. Under the clumping farming, the bamboo grows at a slower rate, and the Clumpers form circular curving culms that stretch from the root formation. Clumpers are low maintenance bamboo that can be planted in containers and under partial sunlight. They are always ready for harvest from 4 to 6 years. Some of the clumping bamboo species include the Fargesia Robusta and the Fargesia Rufa.
Running Bamboo Farming
Running bamboo farming is where the invasive bamboo varieties are grown. These varieties are durable, taller than the clumping, grow at a faster rate, are wider and have more foliage as compared to the clumps. These varieties are normally grown in a secluded area because their roots grow deeper and spread out to uncultivated land and if well managed, they have foliage that grows towards the sky at an incredible height. The best way to avoid the bamboo roots from spreading is by surrounding the farm with concrete. Some of the running bamboo species include Phyllostachys bambusoides and the Hibanobambusa tranquillans.
Harvesting of bamboo In Uganda
Bamboo needs extra care depending on the variety you have planted but the most important thing is that you prevent the bamboo from getting infected with pests and diseases Herbicides should be used after planting bamboo to reduce the competition of nutrients between the bamboo and weeds and you should also apply manure to the soil in case it lacks some nutrients.
Harvesting of bamboo is carried out after 3 to 4 years and with the help of a saw, cut the bamboo trees from the base level. The bamboo cranes are then sun dried for about two weeks before they are taken to the market for sale.
The challenges faced with bamboo growing
Uprooting the bamboo is extremely hard and takes time
Growing bamboo does not give you time to cultivate other crops on the same farmland
Accessibility of good and high quality seedlings is next to zero on the Ugandan market
Many of the locals do not know the benefits of bamboo farming.
In conclusion, bamboo farming is a very lucrative business given the access to the right information and opportunities. With sufficient knowledge about the crop, you will be able to understand that bamboo farming is the next step to a successful farming story in Uganda.