With the recent deforestation experienced around the county in recent years leading to a rise in the cost of timber products, bamboo has become a viable alternative.
Projection from the Kenya Forest Service indicates that demand for the wood product is set to increase rapidly by 2032.
Perhaps it is with such a projection that a local non-governmental organization Climate Change Mitigation Initiative has taken to the planting of bamboo seedlings in Kirinyaga County.
The organisation has already planted over 7000 seedlings which are ready for planting according to an attendant Mr.Norman Nyaga.
Nyaga says the farm nursery is currently situated at a coffee factory just a stone throw away from Difathas town where those interested can easily access the venue.
“We are currently dealing with five varieties which can be grown in the highland, middle land climate, low land and even in the very dry areas.
He says the advantage of the bamboo as compared to other trees is that it grows three times faster than eucalyptus and also has an added advantage of conserving water.
“Eucalyptus also known as blue gum is a primary source of timber products in Kirinyaga County but it is said to guzzle huge amounts of water leading to drying of rivers and wetlands.
Nyaga says bamboo matures faster between four and seven years compared to other trees that take over 15 years.
“We have already supplied seedlings to several farmers in Kirinyaga including a farmer from South Ngariama who has planted over three acres,” Nyaga said
He says investors have been going for the seedlings including donors who have bought a big number and gave to the community living along the river lines for soil conservation.
He says over five kilometers of river Nyamindi river line is planted with the bamboos which apart from conserving the soil also reduce evaporation of the river water during very hot days.
Nyaga who is trained in forestry says bamboo is ideal for numerous construction uses and is suitable for building in earth slide prone areas.
“Due to Its light weight, high elasticity and great resistance to breakages the wood is gaining popularity with the construction companies especially hotel and lodges for tourist attraction,’ he said.
Other uses of bamboo timber include the production of earbuds, toothpicks, straws besides other industrial uses.
Nyaga said they have taken it upon themselves to educate the community on the need to adopt bamboo farming which could lead to the saving further degradation of the tree cover in the country.
‘The closure of the forest by the government has resulted to many of the saw millers going for the trees from the individual farmers which may, in the long run, reduce the gains already achieved in the tree cover initiatives,” he said
He says bamboo in a more specialised use is applied in making bamboo yogurt, bamboo green tea, and other medicinal applications.
Nyaga says the whole idea of adopting bamboo farming is to mitigate against climate change.
“Bamboo leaves converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at a higher rate than the normal trees at 30% higher than the normal trees.
Nyaga says degraded areas like the lower parts of Kirinyaga County can take advantage of the bamboo farming which can easily rehabilitate the area.
However, to attain a bigger output, more land should be put under bamboo to increase yield and reduce importation of bamboo products.