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The Worldwide Economic Impact Of Bamboo

Jan 23, 2008
In a previous article, I touched upon some of the things that make bamboo a highly desirable source of wood flooring that have nothing to do with flooring. In this article, I would like to expand on that theme to make the argument that bamboo is a very special resource that provides many economic benefits to emerging countries throughout the world.

Bamboo creates jobs and economic prosperity for people in countries that lack the resources or infrastructure of more developed countries. In some countries, such as the Philippines, sugar has been vital to the economy for years. It is a primary export that these countries rely heavily on as a source of jobs. So it comes as very bad news to some countries that they are running out of sugar. That's where bamboo steps in.

Bamboo grows easily in many different environments, and it is a strong substitute crop for sugar. Where sugar once grew, the people can now grow bamboo for use in construction and other purposes. It has been shown that it is more profitable for countries to export bamboo in a processed state rather than as a raw product, so this has resulted in the construction of plants and other processing facilities to turn the raw bamboo into a more final product. So jobs are being created that relate both to the growing of bamboo and to the processing of the bamboo.

A problem developing countries have is funding the operations to grow and harvest bamboo. It is estimated that a new bamboo plantation reaches profitability in five years or less, but lenders in less-developed countries do not like to lend money to enterprises that will not show very quick profitability. However, compared to the many years it takes to grow and harvest hard wood, bamboo is a less risky venture.

Compared to other forms of wood, bamboo is very low maintenance. It requires little in the way of weeding or other activities - it is already a grass, and it will dominate grasses around it. Therefore it is a product that can be grown with limited resources, equipment and knowledge.

Bamboo is not just important to developing countries like the Philippines. According to UNIDO (the United Nations Industrial Development Organization), Bamboo accounts for nearly one-eighth of India's total forest land - or 10 million hectares (one hectare equals slightly less than two and a half acres). Industrial usage in India for bamboo is, understandably, high, as it is used in the paper industry, construction, and energy. More recently, more consideration and urgency is being given to the use of bamboo in the manufacture of finished products, which will likely result in continuing growth in the Indian bamboo market.

Bamboo is also a heavy crop in China, the country that ranks number one in terms of bamboo acreage. Bamboo grown in China is used in the creation of craft and construction products, industrial and paper products, food, medicine, and juices/wines. It adds enormous value to the Chinese economy while helping China preserve its forests by harvesting an easily renewable resource, rather than cutting down trees.

Bamboo is a crop that will continue to play an important role in the economies of emerging countries for years to come. It provides opportunity to people who need jobs, and it protects the environment by providing a resource that grows much quicker than trees. So the next time you are shopping for hardwood flooring for your home, consider bamboo. The economic impact of the decision runs deep.
About the Author
For more information about bamboo flooring, visit WorldFloorsDirect.com, a company specializing in wood flooring that originates from managed sustainable forests.
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