Opportunities for Bamboo Enterprise

 In Climate Change, Income Generation

Since 2012, the Cambodian Rural Development Team has been working in the Prey Lang Landscape to create alternative income generating options for forest-dwelling communities through sustainable use and management of bamboo.

Prey Lang Forest, situated to the west of the Mekong River in North-Central Cambodia, is one of Cambodia’s most significant unprotected landscapes. This forest provides a wide range of important ecosystem services such as clean water, livelihoods for local communities, and a crucial habitat for a diversity of flora and fauna species. This important forest was under intense pressure from illegal logging and wildlife poaching, which is why CRDT, along with other organizations, came in to help offset the natural resources degradation and to improve reforestation.

Studies from Winrock International found that bamboo in the region possess massive economic and environmental potential; In fact, if managed well, bamboo resource in the Prey Lang Landscape can bring the following benefits:

●     Enhance local livelihoods

●     Present land clearance in the bamboo forests for farming

●     Mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration

●     Contribute to wildlife habitat protection

●     Prevent soil erosion along stream banks and sloping areas

Here at CRDT, we believe that bamboo enterprise is the ideal solution to improve the situations for both the communities and the environment.

Opportunities for Bamboo Enterprise

In 2015, CRDT partnered with San Wansen to help her start a bamboo enterprise. San is 55 years old, and has lived all her life in the Prey Lang area. San has five children – two boys and three girls, and they are now between 29 and 35 years old. All her children dropped out from school when they were young, because the school was too far from the village. Before working with CRDT, San and her husband’s only source of income was from farming, and this was barely sufficient to feed their family. Fortunately, now her husband is able to raise chickens on the side while San is running the bamboo enterprise with the help of CRDT, who provided the bamboo cutting machine, financial support and training.

Since its inception, the enterprise has generated $100 and currently employs 15 people – 11 women and 4 men. The enterprise’s plan is to keep 5% of all the profit in a common pool for community expenses, while giving the rest to the bamboo enterprise workers. The project has allowed San and other women in the village more opportunities to increase their incomes, as chicken raising and farming were their only options prior to 2015.

At the moment, the main issues faced by the bamboo enterprise are their lack of experience and their inability to meet some of their customers’ requirements. To create the perfect bamboo sticks that the customers want often require years of experience, let alone good machineries and adequate training, To overcome this challenge, CRDT often served as the facilitators, helping San, the clients, community members and other stakeholders understand the limits and potentials of the bamboo enterprise. For instance, the bamboo enterprise was able to negotiate and strike a deal with gaurantee rate, an incense manufacturing company, this July thanks to the help of CRDT staffs.

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