Comparison of bamboo production systems in six counties in China

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The cases studied show a lively bamboo sector that is expanding, contributing to employment and economic development in rural areas of China. County variations seem to indicate alternative land use options and different degrees of industrial development among them. New demands, notably for bamboo shoots are widening the range of species being planted, signaling a trend towards greater diversification, although most bamboo remains the dominant species. A new emerging issue is how to improve bamboo management while trying to satisfy development and environmental objectives. While bamboo intensification is showing signs of environmental impact, many naturally occurring species of bamboo remain still under-utilized if not blatantly ignored, being sometimes considered as a weed. The first phase of land reform seems to have reached a ceiling. There is a wide consensus that the reforms undertaken have triggered a major expansion of the bamboo sector. However, a new momentum in the reform process is needed. Extending the length of contracts, improving the conditions and guarantees for inheritability of rights, allowing for some flexibility in the allocation of land and a new approach to subleasing, as well as incentives to improve management of state and collective farms are currently being discussed and applied in an experimental way. The recent bamboo raw material price stagnation and even decline seem to indicate a market glut. The Asian economic crisis has had an effect in this trial installed capacity, old technologies and insufficient response to new demands has also contributed to the decline of prices. Restructuring the bamboo industry, focusing it on quality and innovation, seem to be one of the key tasks ahead.

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