Potentials of Bamboo in Nigeria's Industrial Sector
Nigeria’s industrial development policy is hinged on sustainable utilization of its locally available raw materials. However, as a result of overdependence on forest resources, various surveys have shown imminent shortages of wood raw materials supply to the wood and wood products sector. The forest resources survey, 1996-1998, revealed that the forest cover in the country has decreased by 20% over the proceeding 18 years. In addition, the total useable volume of wood down to 30cm diameter cutting limits in the reserved forest areas is 293,775,500m3. When this is juxtaposed with total wood requirement projected at 59,955,000m3 in 2010, extreme wood shortages are expected in the near future. These developments have led to reduction in capacity utilization in the wood and wood products sector. Capacity utilization which was observed to be 58% in 1989, reduced drastically to 25% in 2004. This has necessitated development of an alternative or complementry raw material for use in the nation’s industrial sector. One of the most promising alternatives is bamboo which has become a substitute to solid wood in most applications. Bamboo, which is widely available in the Southern and Central parts of the country, is mostly currently used at mundane level, thereby, contributing very little to the volume of economic activities in the country. If adequately developed through initiation of appropriate policies and measures, bamboo can become a veritable industrial raw material for the wood and products, pulp and paper, chemical and pharmaceuticals, construction, and textile, wearing apparel and leather industrial sectors. This will also lead to reduction in plant biodiversity loss as bamboo will save forests by replacing traditional wood and other plant species being exploited and converted to a number of industrial products. Also, with a 10 to 30% annual increase in biomass compared to 2 to 5% for trees, bamboo offers greater biomass for industrial use. As diversity makes bamboo adaptable to many environments and can be harvested in 3 to 5 years compared to 10 to 20 years in most softwoods, and, 30 to 50 years in hardwoods, bamboo is a very versatile plant to promote for industrial development aspirations of developing tropical countries such as Nigeria and to fight the adverse effects of poverty.
Keywords: plybamboo, culm, capacity utilisation, biodiversity, bamboo pulp.