Bamboo Star Agri Forest Industry, a factory that produce products from bamboo, has gone operational in the Benishangul Gumuz Regional state.
It produces a number of items such as tooth picks and kitchen wares using bamboo.
The factory’s investment capital is 100 million birr and plans to branch out in other regions in the future. It cultivates its own bamboo and encourages communities to grow the plant by distributing seedlings and later on buys it back from them. Besides creating indirect employment through the distribution of seedlings, the factory has been able to provide direct employment for 200 people.
Owner and General Manager of Bamboo Star, Michael Gebru said it has plans to build more factories in the future that will be able to produce paper.
Michael told Capital that he plans to open a plywood factory with an investment cost of 20 million birr and that the feasibility study for this specific project is already underway.
According to him, his company has distributed 500,000 bamboo plants to the farmers in the area and is planning to plant up to one million bamboos by next year.
“We are focusing on exporting flooring and ceiling to different countries,” he said. “We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to export to Saudi Arabia.”
Besides having plans to open other factories, Michael suggested that there is also a plan to open a Bamboo Study institute in cooperation with the Ethiopian and Chinese governments.
The institute will become instrumental in raising the interests of students to learn and graduate in the agricultural sphere and to further their studies and specialize in bamboo. The institute will also be tasked to find easier and practical ways to further utilize bamboo.
Benishangul Gumuz Regional State officials said that there are other companies who have proposed to invest and engage in similar ventures, but so far Bamboo Star is the one of the two companies which is actively engaged. In the future, other companies are expected to follow suit.
Bamboo Star Agri Forest Industry also plans to export its products to several countries in the current 2013/14 budget year with the aim of bringing in hard currency into the country’s coffers. Besides creating job opportunities and bring in hard currency, it is also actively promoting a green economy.
A study by the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED), in 2009, revealed that Ethiopia has 959,662ha of highland and lowland bamboo. This corresponds to two thirds of Africa’s current total bamboo resources. Benishangul Gumuz Regional State is home to the largest proportion of it.
Bamboo Star Agro forestry, established four years ago, employs 250 people in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Assossa Zone. It has 393,000ha of bamboo plantations, in four zones of the Region. The company produces bamboo flooring, ceilings, and toothpicks. It supplies finished bamboo products on a large scale to the construction market in the capital.