Implementation of the Houaphanh provincial bamboo sector development strategy

This project is completed

The growth of the global bamboo market is expected to reach up to USD 15-20 Billion/year in 2017 and Mekong bamboo could be worth around USD 0.6-1.2 billion per year. The bamboo sector in Lao PDR is undeveloped and depends heavily on Vietnam and Thai industries. This is due to: a lack of supportive polices to promote the sector and attract investment; amateur private sector operations; the low capacity of bamboo producers to provide quality and quantity of supply (of handicrafts, furniture, bamboo shoots) to the market; lack of awareness among stakeholders of the regional potential of the sector; and mismanagement of natural bamboo resources.

A Bamboo Programme was delivered in partnership with GRET, a French INGO, in the Houaphanh and Vientiane districts. Until 2014, the programme targeted rural poor in remote and upland areas (who constitute 75% of the Lao population) in northern Lao PDR. Some 6,000 households were targeted, involving the engagement of some 500 women with 30 traders and factories to provide additional or alternative income sources. Under the programme, emerging small and medium sized private sector actors, such as bamboo factories and traders, were trained to scale up their business relations with bamboo producer groups, and to organise themselves into trade networks or associations able to expand and compete in new markets. 

Through dialogue, facilitation and stakeholder sessions the Bamboo Programme aimed to bring together actors to find a solution to the constraints experienced in the value chain, such as cumbersome governmental trade procedures (in relation to taxation and quotas), and the inability of bamboo producers to meet demand (for example to satisfy the raw material demands of chopstick factories). Through on-the-job training with Local Capacity Builders, new technical (product design and quality, book keeping, business plans) and organisational skills (group functioning, leadership) were introduced and practiced to enable an effective flow of products in the various value chains (raw stems for chopsticks, handicrafts, furniture, bamboo shoots, etc). 

Target groups often have no access to rice paddy land and their livelihoods depend on shifting cultivation, keeping some cattle and harvesting a wide range of non-timber forest products (NTFP), many of which do not reach the market. NFTPs such as bamboo offer one of few opportunities for increasing household income. The majority of communities have not yet gained access rights to land and have limited means of investing.

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