SOUTH African bamboo farmers should establish a representative body to lobby government departments and to involve them in the development of a bamboo industry development plan, agricultural economics lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch, Dr Daan Louw said last week.
Most successful agricultural and agri-processing industries have organised themselves in organisations, such as Grain SA, Potatoes SA and the Agriculture Business Chamber, among others, to engage authorities about issues, such as policy, that affect their sectors.
Dr Louw said that history showed better efficiency and co-ordination was achieved in any industrial sector when people were organised into structured bodies that had set objectives and goals.
There must also be a common vision for a South African bamboo industry thoroughly thought through by the farmers themselves and the prospective agribusiness. "Such a structure would set standards and ensure the industry’s future is competitive, cohesive and sustainable.
"It could achieve this by coordinating and investing in core activities, including the generic marketing of bamboo through a marketing development team, managing a research and a development programme, and implementing a sustainable natural resource management strategy." he said.
"This could be achieved by creating a supportive structure that improves communication within the industry and co-operation amongst its members," Dr Louw said.
Jolanda Jonkhart of the International Network of Bamboo and Rattan — an inter-governmental organisation with 38 member countries and headquartered in Beijing — said SA’s appetite and interest in bamboo products had been growing steadily.
Bamboo imports had increased in value from about R9bn in 2009, to R12bn in 2010 and to about R15.5bn last year.
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