Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bamboo could provide lifeline for African farmers

14.03.2006
Growing bamboo on their land could help African farmers to improve the safety of their food crops and generate precious additional income, researchers at the University of Nottingham believe.

Academics in the University’s School of Biosciences are working with colleagues in Kenya to examine whether bamboo could be used to remove potentially harmful contaminants from soil and provide extra income for subsistence farmers.

Training in how to grow bamboo and new skills such as how to manufacture high value furniture and tourist goods could enable farmers to benefit greatly from growing this versatile family of plants.

Water pollution is of huge concern in Africa, and many other parts of the developing world, as around 60 per cent of the rural population and many urban dwellers do not have access to a clean supply. In times of drought, farmers are forced to take water directly from drains, which may be heavily contaminated by industrial and human waste.

Crops grown on land contaminated by polluted water may absorb potentially toxic contaminants, such as the heavy metal cadmium, which can cause kidney damage and brittle bones if ingested in sufficient quantities over extended periods.

The researchers believe that various bamboo species, including giant bamboo, could hold the key to addressing the problem. They are examining three species to test their ability to extract harmful elements from the soil and lock them away safely in their shoots, reducing heavy metal concentrations in the soil so that crops for human consumption can be grown more safely.

The stems of giant bamboo grow to a height of more than 30 metres within a single season and can be harvested and sold by farmers to gain extra profit in addition to their usual crops. Repeated sprouting of new shoots provides a sustainable source of timber and energy.

Professor Colin Black, in the University’s School of Biosciences, and colleagues are also looking at ways of equipping farmers with the new skills needed to make the most of their resources.

“It is possible to grow and sell bamboo, but farmers will not get the best price for the raw material. However, by manufacturing bamboo into useful products such as furniture or tourist goods, you can provide added value. With appropriate skills, farmers may be able to transform raw bamboo material worth $5 into manufactured goods worth $100.”

Reintroduction of bamboo to Africa could also have important environmental implications as indigenous species have been all but wiped out by deforestation and conversion of land for agriculture, contributing to water retention problems as forests are important in retaining and releasing water gradually over extended periods. The loss of forested areas mean that flash flooding and landslides are common in mountainous areas. Re-establishment of tree cover on hillslopes is an important tool for addressing these problems.

Professor Black is working on the project with Hunja Murage, a lecturer in horticulture at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, and other colleagues at JKUAT and the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya.

A leading international expert in bamboo, Hunja is evaluating the suitability of indigenous and exotic bamboo species for wastewater treatment and the best methods for supplying farmers with year-round supplies of planting material.

Hunja spent three months at Nottingham in 2005 analysing water, soil and plant samples from his field trials for contaminants before returning to Kenya to complete his field programme. He will return to Nottingham in December 2006 to analyse soil and plant material and write up his PhD thesis. His work is supported by an Association of Commonwealth Universities Scholarship.

Emma Thorne | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/public-affairs/press-releases/index.phtml?menu=pressreleases&code=BAMB-41/06&create_date=13-mar-2006

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

nachricht Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>