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Celebrating World Bamboo Day 2022

What is the World Bamboo Day?

The World Bamboo Day is celebrated on the 18th of September annually. Since it’s launch, during the 8th World Bamboo Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2009, this special day is used to commemorate the various benefits offered by bamboo in terms of sustainability, environment, ecology, science, architecture, art, music, food, housing, habitat, restoration, aesthetics, economy, utilization amongst others. 
This year the theme of World Bamboo Day 2022 is - Bamboo for Green Life and Sustainable Development.
According to literature, bamboo is resilient and adaptable; with immense biodiversity and ecosystem benefits and services. Their unique characteristics of quick growth, extensive root systems, and pioneer spirit can reduce erosion, stabilise slopes, absorb heavy metals, create shade, harbour wildlife, recycle carbon dioxide, and clean the air. 
Planting and managing sustainable bamboo forests allows for multiple social benefits, including rural development (improved housing), agroforestry products (which includes nutritional food and alternative fibre), with the big bonus of climate mitigation.

Bamboo uses in Fiji 
There are reportedly 20 bamboo species found in Fiji, of which only one is indigenous; Schizostachyum glaucifolium, locally known as bitu dina. These exotic bamboo species was introduced into Fiji in the mid-1800s and have been widely cultivated and have now become naturalized with Fiji Bamboo. However, a few species like Bambusa tuldoides, Dendrocalamus giganteus, and Gigantochloa apus remain rare and localised and the Ministry of Forestry is researching with key stakeholders to exploring more about its properties. 
In Fiji and many other Pacific Island States, bamboo is a key part of life and culture and has been used for a range of purposes including culinary, cutlery, construction, rafts, and fish traps.

Bamboo in Fiji’s Myths and Legends - “Bitu ni Ceva”
Bamboo is also intertwined in our folklore tales, and one that is quite famous is the sacred bamboo species known as the “Bitu ni Ceva” that is said to be found on only Qoma Island. Stories passed down through generations describe how Rokomautu (the son of Lutunasobasoba- an ancestral god) travelled along the “tua leita” from Nakauvadra and upon reaching the shores of Qoma decided to rest on the ridge top of Qoma levu.
In this tale of the journey across the “tua leita”, Rokomautu had a bamboo stick which he used as a walking cane. Upon reaching the ridge top, he could not find rest as he was constantly disturbed by the early settlers. Rokomautu decided to leave Qoma and head to Verata Ucinivanu and in his haste, he forgot his bamboo walking stick. 
This bamboo walking stick bore leaves and eventually grew into this sacred bamboo plant the “bitu ni ceva”. And the myth surrounding it is that if someone ruffles the bamboo leaves or disturbs the vicinity of the bamboo plant, the island will face intense southerly winds for eight concurrent days and nights.

Bamboo Research and Development

Research and development on bamboo and rattan in Fiji started as a project in the late 1970s in Vunidawa, Naitasiri and in Somosomo, Taveuni with funding from the Government of the People’s Republic of China. This was small scale with the occasional publication, international collaboration with China and Indonesia for capacity building as well as joint workshops for bamboo research and training.
In order to advance into the research and development of Bamboo and tap into its potential, Fiji became a member of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) on the first of September 2020. INBAR is an intergovernmental developmental organization that promotes environmentally sustainable development using bamboo and rattan.  
It has 48 member states and has played a strong role in promoting South-South cooperation in the last 20 years. INBAR’s priorities, defined under its 2015-2030 Strategic Action Plan, is to work with countries to support sustainable development and their green economy action plans. 
To do this, INBAR targets its support to countries in four priority areas; 
(1) Policy shaping, 
(2) Representation and advocacy, 
(3) Knowledge sharing and learning, and 
(4) Action research and country support.
Fiji’s commitment to Bamboo Development resulted in cooperation with INBAR on an international platform where INBAR co-hosted a side event with the Government of Fiji at the UNFCCC COP23, ‘Bamboo for Climate Change Action in Small Island Developing States’ which highlighted the potential of bamboo in Fiji and similar low-lying islands and which are most vulnerable to the threat of climate change.
The Forestry Research and Development Division together with the Forest Product, Trade, and Training Unit are currently researching on preservative treatment, durability and strength testing with the Fiji National University, as well as collection of cuttings for propagation and growth studies.
The Ministry of Forestry is also working closely with Pacific Islands Development Forum, Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management & Meteorological Services, Habitat for Humanity Fiji and the Fiji National University to advance bamboo research and development.

Bamboo resource - distribution and abundance
The late Honorable Minister for Forestry, Mr Osea Naiqamu stated in Parliament last year that “The Ministry of Forestry in its 2021 National Forest Inventory (NFI) will aim to accurately identify and map the distribution of bamboo resources across the country”. 
Determining a sustainable resource base from where processing facilities can efficiently and sustainably source bamboo materials from is essential in sustaining a bamboo industry in Fiji. Currently the inventory is ongoing and the NFI report will enable Fiji to gauge the distribution and abundance of the species falling within the sampling plots.

Fiji Bamboo Association
Fiji’s accession to INBAR not only facilitates bamboo sector development in Fiji, but also provides new opportunities and impetus for forestry cooperation between Fiji and INBAR member countries.  This includes assessing market opportunities and constraints, whilst identifying potentials, relations, and linkages of various stakeholders, including farmers, traders, enterprises, officials, policymakers, and international research and development agencies, all of which is  key to determining the marketing structure of a prospective bamboo industry in Fiji.
Today, bamboo and rattan are already amongst the world’s most valuable non-timber forest products with an estimated market value of more than USD$50 billion or more than FJD$100 billion. 
In 2017, the total import and export value of bamboo and rattan quotas for Fiji amounted to USD$397,925 of which imports occupied over 99 percent. 
This suggests that bamboo and rattan have the potential to contribute more to Fiji’s economic development and the intent is to support interested persons and communities to effectively develop their resources, including investments in appropriate technologies. 
Realising the full potential of bamboo will move Fiji closer to achieving its ambitious development, climate and environmental aims including the Sustainable Development Goals, REDD+ targets, Paris Agreement commitments and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. 

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