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Boom in Nicaragua’s bamboo industry has taken off

Nicaragua’s bamboo industry was recently highlighted by the BBC as it emphasized that the country’s boom has already begun as new plantations have started to rise in the country.

In eastern Nicaragua, bamboo was until recently regarded by most of the local population as valueless; however, on land that was under dense forest cover, new bamboo plantations are rising. Besides, from Nicaragua, it is a very short passage across the Caribbean for processed bamboo to the potentially huge market in the United States, which puts the Central American country in a better position than China, the long-time big bamboo producer.

Nicaragua’s bamboo boom is just starting, “at this moment the bamboo is like the young girl with the pimples that has not overcome puberty,” says John Vogel, who runs the local operations of EcoPlanet Bamboo. However, the investment in bamboo is already having a positive effect on local plantation workers, providing paid employment for people, including women, many of whom were previously jobless, or for men who once had to travel to Costa Rica to find work.

The world’s first Bamboo Bond, devised by British company EcoPlanet Bamboo, has under way a project at the Río Kama and Río Siquia plantation in Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast, due to ideal topographic and climatic conditions. This company purchases and converts degraded land that underwent deforestation into fully functioning Guadua bamboo forests.

The BBC says there is still a long way to go for bamboo in Nicaragua, but there is no doubt the boom has already started.

The image of bamboo is undergoing a transformation; some now call it “the timber of the 21st Century”. It also has the potential to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, the biggest greenhouse gas, and all kinds of people around the world are becoming aware of it. This is the world's fastest growing plant, ready to be harvested annually and sustainably after four to five years in contrast to the typical tropical hardwood that takes many years longer to mature and can be harvested only once.

New technologies and ways of industrially processing bamboo have made a big difference, enabling it to begin competing effectively with wood products for Western markets. It is estimated that the world bamboo market stands at around US$10 billion today, and the World Bamboo Organization says it could double in five years.

by S. C.
01 october 2013, World News > America

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