HAVING taught at Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University for decades, retired Andrew Tumusiime made a bold decision to enter forestry business in his hometown in the southwestern part of the country.
Returning to Kabale, Tumusiime planted a bamboo nursery bed, hoping that people would buy the seedlings from him. However, finding clients was challenging, so he decided to plant the seedlings himself.
“At first, I took it as a joke, but then I realized it was good business. I turned my energy to researching until I landed on websites which explained the impact of bamboo growing in China,” Tumusiime told Xinhua in a recent interview.
To obtain further information about bamboo planting, Tumusiime joined the Uganda Bamboo Association, some of whose members had acquired knowledge about bamboo farming from China.
The association, according to one of its leaders Flavia Munaba, brings related organizations and community members together to share information, resources and technology in growing and adding value to bamboo.
Munaba, who joined the bamboo industry after a trip to China in 2011, said the association has more than 300 members.
The association organizes demonstrations for members on how to plant bamboo and also sensitizes them about the economic benefits of the plant.
“This association of bamboo growers has great people. They are not selfish when it comes to sharing the great knowledge they learnt from China,” Tumusiime said.
After a decade-long endeavor, Tumusiime’s bamboo business has thrived. He was one of the exhibitors at the Harvest Money Expo 2022 in Kampala, one of Uganda’s largest agricultural exhibitions.
During the expo, Tumusiime’s booth showed various bamboo products such as toothpicks, chairs, tables, mortars and pestles.
He said many customers who came to his exhibition stand were awed by the products made out of bamboo.
“This is amazing. The toothpicks I have known all my life are made in China. I like innovation and maybe in the future I will consider planting bamboo,” Ritah Nanyonjo, one of the customers said after visiting Tumusiime’s stall at the expo.
“I have also seen some liquid soap and other herbs made out of bamboo. This is great news for our country,” Nanyonjo said.
James Kariuki, a Kenyan national who attended the exhibition, said he was inspired by Tumusiime’s work.
“He has told us that once you plant bamboo, you can start harvesting after three to four years. This harvesting goes on for the next 50 years and even more,” Kariuki said.
“I will definitely use part of my land to grow bamboo. Tumusiime has also referred me to some websites which talk about the importance of bamboo and how the Chinese have done wonderful things out of this plant,” Kariuki added.