Village management keeps bamboo thriving
“In 2006, 15 hectares of bitter bamboo woodland was allocated for the people of Mixay village to control, and rules were set up for its management,” village Deputy Head Chia Thorveu said. “People living in other villages are not allowed to collect the shoots of this bamboo in this area, to save it exclusively for the people of Mixay village.”
“From August and September it is accepted practice for people not to collect the shoots so they grow into mature bamboo,” Mr Chia said. If villagers break this rule they may be fined by the village authorities. “Since the start of this programme some of the village's 30 families have earned a good income selling bamboo shoots,” Mr Chia said.
Prior to the project people came from five or six villages to collect bamboo shoots in the Mixay forest, placing its sustainability as a food source in question. This over-harvesting caused conflict between the villages. “Now each Mixay villager makes 200,000-300,000 kip a year on average from the sale of bitter bamboo shoots,” he said.
One local girl, Ms Nanchor Yang, 15, said she collected 3-4 kg of bamboo shoots a day, making about 100,000 kip a month for her family, which paid for her school fees. District Forestry Office Programme Coordinator, Mr Vilert Chanthavongkham, said “Our office did some research to find out how the preservation of this bamboo forest can benefit the village.”
“We helped village authorities to divide up and manage the forest. We advised villagers to cut down old bamboo about three years ago so that more new shoots would grow.” The programme asked authorities from nearby villages to participate by helping to draw up project rules.
This year the office will consult with village authorities to revise the management framework in light of recent violations of the rules. On the back of this success, the district forestry office plans to set up a similar scheme for sweet bamboo in other villages, to provide local people with a good source of both food and income. These days Mixay village is making quite a lot of money because it's the start of the harvest season and bamboo shoots fetch a good price. The people of Mixay are mostly farmers who grow rice, sweetcorn and other crops.
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