There's a lot of bamboo in Malaysia but it is not used to its full potential.
Although Malaysian forests are thick with giant stands of bamboo, it is surprisingly difficult to buy a single bamboo cane for the garden, and those that you do find in garden centres are very expensive. Why is that?
Partly it is because bamboo tends to grow in smallish clumps on mountain slopes amid dense jungle making it difficult to extract and transport. And partly it is because it is perceived as a low value commodity only good for satay skewers or traditional handicraft items like baskets so nobody bothers to cultivate it.
There is enormous potential for commercial cultivation of bamboo in Malaysia and for the development of value added industries to produce a wide variety of bamboo based merchandise. Other countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines have been much more enterprising in turning bamboo into money.
The climate in Malaysia is ideal for bamboo cultivation with abundant rainfall, high temperatures, plenty of sun and absence of frosts. It requires no pesticides or fertilisers and no additional watering. It is super hardy being naturally resistant to bugs, it can withstand storms and can grow in degraded soils.
It is a species of grass not timber. It is renewable and is the fastest growing plant on earth with growing rates of up to 90cm per day recorded.
It is also very versatile and can be turned into paper, fabric for clothing, bedding, pillows and mats, or used to make floor tiles, blinds, wall coverings and other household decor.. It is also an eco-friendly building material and substitutes for wood in making furniture and fencing, utensils and chopsticks. Or you can eat it - bamboo shoots are a source of nutritious food, or use it as an ingredient in traditional medicine.
Perhaps some of the large plantation companies (Sime Darby, IOI, Genting etc) should plant some bamboo forests alongside their oil palm and rubber estates and nurture innovative downstream industries for the manufacture of high value bamboo products in Malaysia.
Just a suggestion!
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