The mini congress on bamboo: a high on the way to sustainability

Minicongreso del bambú en el camino de la sostenibilidadAt the end of march 2008, producers, academics, scientists, traders, reforesters and farmers came together in Bayamo, capital of the province of Granma in the east of Cuba. At this mini bamboo congress results were presented of the work being carried out since 2004 in Cuba through the “bamboo – biomass” project financed through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, COSUDE. 

bambu_biomasa_004.jpgMore than half the invited participants are vinculated directly to the productive activities at the base and took advantage of this platform to interchange experiences, know-how, ideas and build new alliances for the future. It was not a conference with long and boring presentations; each of the speakers was carefully selected and had 20 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for debate with the audience. This, combined with keynote presentations by high-level national and international experts, created an attractive program.

Parallel to the congress an exhibition of bamboo furniture evolved into a forum of interchange of experiences. The exhibitors displayed their best pieces with pride, from classic furniture to high quality craft products.  On this occasion the participants were animated with the launching of liquor made of bamboo.



bambu_biomasa_003.jpg Most of the 25 presentations revealed that this phase of the project has been especially successful, as much as in experience as in results. The main themes included the selection of species to propagate, the need to establish a reliable procedure to cure and protect against insects, the results in the search of an adhesive for production of bamboo panels, technology transfer in curving bamboo, and the mathematic modulation of the physical and mechanical properties of bamboo panels. All these results will find continuity in the second phase of the project that begins in May 2008.

bambu_biomasa_006.jpg On a field visit to a farm in the south of Granma the participants were able to observe more than 600 hectares of bamboo in soils that had been discarded at the beginning because of the high salt content and now have been seeded by the local forestry company of Manzanillo. Production has been organized in small units called “granjas forestales”, where the farmer lives with his family and attends the plantation and earns according to his production.

This experience with its excellent results has demonstrated the pertinence and importance of using bamboo in reforestation programs. Each of the participants returned to their homes with a virtual portfolio of ideas and projects to be realized in the future.






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In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.