Sustainable Development and Bamboo Value Chains: Ethiopia’s Green Growth Opportunities Within the “Sino-Dutch-East Africa Bamboo Development Programme 2016-19”
The International Labour Organisation estimates that in 2017 some 68% of the Ethiopian workforce were still employed in agriculture (ILOSTAT, 2018). Agricultural land covers 36% of the total territory contributing to about 40% of the Ethiopian GDP. Forests cover 12.5% of the national land, contributing to about 4% of the Ethiopian GDP, providing employment to about 270,000 and various forms of income and livelihood integration through Non-Timber Forestry Products or “NTFPs” (Durai et al. 2018; MoEFCC, 2017).
As a consequence, the government of Ethiopia has recently devised and implemented a series of policy mechanisms to promote further development in the country, placing great emphasis on inclusive green growth and thus on the very sectors of agriculture and forestry: important examples include Growth and Transformation Plans (GTP) I and II, Climate Resilient Green Economic (CRGE) Strategy, Productive Safety Net Programme, Women Entrepreneurship Development Programme, Sustainable Land Management Programmes (SLMP) I and II etc.
In this context, the relevance of bamboo in Ethiopia stands out, as also reflected by the abovementioned GTPII (2016-2020), which addresses bamboo as a key resource functional to the overarching goal of “green development”, consisting in the improvement of living standards as well as in various forms of simultaneous restoration and preservation of the natural environment. The country, in fact, enjoys the largest natural bamboo endowment in the region and one of the largest in Africa. Moreover, bamboo resources already contribute to the livelihood of around 800,000 locals, representing both an important agricultural crop and a precious NTFP (Durai et al., 2018). Nevertheless, as the below market and value chain assessment aims to point out, the potential of bamboo to contribute even more significantly to socio-economic development and sustainable environmental management remains, so far, constrained by fundamental criticalities and thus significantly untapped (Wondimu, 2018).
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that declining biodiversity is threatening food supplies globally.
However, it is our food production systems that have been the major driver of biodiversity loss. Food and drink production has driven 75% of deforestation to date and agriculture is the top threat for 86% of plant and animal species known to be at risk of extinction.
Across Africa, agriculture has the potential to not only deliver food security but to be a driver of economic growth. It is, however, critical that environmental and societal impact are given priority when making decisions on the development of the sector.
How can the sector find the balance between creating economic opportunity and implementing sustainable practices that positively impact ecosystems? AfricaLive opens this debate to leaders from across the sector.