Though found in natural sites of Cameroon at a rapid growth rate, bamboo is underused for crafts activities and not even used in the industrial sector. Commonly called Chinese or Indian Bamboo, it has a huge socioeconomic and environmental potential.
But due to Cameroonian high lacking knowledge on bamboo distribution, the different bamboo species found in Cameroon (both indigenous and exotic) and how to exploit them, bamboo is less used compared to other NTFPs like Rattan, Raphia bamboo and Liana.
Furthermore, those engaged in bamboo crafts activities are mostly men, from the collection of bamboo species, transportation to processing and marketing. However, some women are involved in bamboo activities especially marketing, though the percentage is less significant compared to men. The Majority of craftsmen collect bamboo culms that they used as raw material, in the case they are owners of natural bamboo stand or have obtained the right to collect bamboo from chief/leader of the community where these bamboo stands are found. The minority orders this raw material from bamboo collectors who usually sell a bamboo culm between 500 to 1000 FCFA. Bamboo collection is done all over the year during the dry and rainy seasons. These collectors often use poor tools such as cutlasses and manual saw.
Indeed, bamboo processing for craft products in Cameroon is made in five stages: drying bamboos culms collected; cleaning, bending, varnishing and fashioning. The middle part is mostly used though all parts of bamboo culm can be used for products manufacturing. These parts are used for the manufacturing of furniture (tables, chairs, stools and beds) and utensils (cups, musical instrument, picture frame, led ceiling light).These products are sold in towns like Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Dschang, etc. the price varies from 1.000 to 4.000.000 FCFA. Some bamboo products and their prices: Bed (80.000 FCFA), five-seater (250.000 FCFA), a bar with 2 stools (180.000 FCFA), musical instrument (1.500 FCFA), cup (1.000 FCFA) etc. Other material such as Rattan, Raphia bamboo fibres, Liana and Straw are often used when processing.
However, Craftsmen encounter many difficulties all through the bamboo value chain, that is from collection to marketing. There are factors affecting bamboo harvesting such as low knowledge on harvesting techniques, poor harvesting tools, less labour available and inaccessibility to natural site. Also these craftsmen have difficulties when manufacturing bamboo products, because they lack appropriate manufacturing tools/material. But the major problems are faced when marketing bamboo products.
Therefore, these problems can be tackled through the creation of bamboo’s deposit shop, like the ones for rattan, to enable craftsmen to have bamboo culms whenever they need; trainings in bamboo reproduction techniques (in order to establish bamboo nursery to solve the problem of the access to natural sites), also improvement of their manufacturing techniques via trainings in order to vary bamboo manufactured products. And concerning the marketing, programmes of bamboo products advertisement can be developed to improve this activity.
By Vanessa MANKOU