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Bamboo as Alternative Crop and Livelihood to Smallholder Tobacco Farming Research Project (IDRC Supported)

In Kenya, tobacco farming takes place in Western (Bungoma, Busia, Teso and Mount Elgon districts), Central (Kirinyaga, Muranga, and Thika districts) and Eastern (Meru, Kitui and Machakos districts) provinces). However, most of the 80% tobacco production is taking place in the Southern Nyanza region mainly in Migori, Kuria, Suba and Homa bay districts of Nyanza province. Through financial and technical support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada), South Eastern University College (SEUCO) in collaboration with Maseno University, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and 240 smallholder tobacco farmers, is leading in undertaking action research aimed at alleviating poverty, promote human health and controlling environmental degradation in these districts (Migori,Homa Bay,Suba and Kuria). The Kenya Tobacco Control Research Group based at SEUCO and Maseno University, is currently involved in one of its largest research projects in the South Nyanza Region and other tobacco growing areas in Kenya focusing on Bamboo as an Alternative Crop and Livelihood Strategy to Smallholder Tobacco Farmers for the period 2006-2012.

The Project Leader, Prof. Jacob Kibwage of the School of Environment and Natural Resources Management, indicates that about 90% of bamboo plants perform well under the same agro-climatic and soil conditions as those of tobacco in the study area (Migori, Kuria, Homabay and Suba Districts). He adds that annual estimated income from bamboo farming will be 4-5 times higher than tobacco at the farm gate prices and about 10 times higher when processed at the community/ family level to various products like baskets, furniture, toothpicks, flower vases, etc.Click here to view: More Bamboo Applications and Uses The project has already established bamboo processing micro-enterprises and farmers cooperatives in each of the 4 four study districts and developed an Action Plan to address the key issues surrounding the smallholder tobacco farmers in the area.Click here to view: Why Bamboo Production is a Viable Alternative to Tobacco Farming

 Tobacco farmer attending to his plants                                           Tobacco farmers drying tobacco leaves in Nyanza

Study Objectives.
  • To examine the current and historical changes in household livelihood strategies used by tobacco farmers in comparison to non-tobacco farmers.
  • To experiment on the potential and people's attitudes of adapting Bamboo as an alternative crop and source of livelihood to tobacco farming in the region.
  • To undertake an assessment of marketing dynamics as a feedback to investment in the bamboo industry in the region and Kenya at large.
  • To develop community action plans to ensure a reduction of tobacco production in the region through livelihood diversification/ poverty alleviation strategies.
  • To undertake a gendered assessment of agricultural products cooperative marketing systems in the Lake Victoria Region and identify best practices that should be replicated in the upcoming bamboo industry for former tobacco farmers.
  • To study the household livelihood strategies used by tobacco and non-tobacco farmers in the other three (3) tobacco farming clusters in Kenya as compared to the South Nyanza region results obtained in Phase I in order to develop applicable national policy briefs.
  • To establish and monitor bamboo propagation nurseries for seedling production and enterprise diversity in the South Nyanza Region.
  • To carry out environmental auditing of tobacco farming activities in South Nyanza Region for purposes of evaluating their compliance level and policy formulation.
  • Evaluation of the project to determine its impact on livelihoods of smallholder tobacco farmers.
  • To build capacity of staff and farmers in tobacco control through alternative livelihoods.
  • To develop and implement a communication strategy for the project in order to effectively disseminate the outputs of the project.

Farmers preparing to plant Bamboo seedlings                               A Farmer admiring his grown bamboo plant

Read more about our activities

Tobacco control organizations                                                          Bamboo development organizations
Ministry of Health                                                                                     International Network For Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)

World Health Organisation                                                                         Kenya Forestry Research Institute

Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative (ATCRI)                                Green Earth Bamboo

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA)                                                     American Bamboo Society

Institute For Legislative Affairs                                                                   Bamboo of the Americans

Kenya Medical Association                                                                          Environmental Bamboo Foundation

National Campaign Aganist Drug Abuse (NACADA)                                       World Bamboo

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)                                                    East Africa Bamboo Project

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)                      Pacific Bamboo Resources (PBR)

Ministry of Agriculture                                                                                Generation Bambou

Journalists Against Tobacco (JATT)

Africa Tobacco Control Resource Center

African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA)


Copyright 2011, South Eastern University College, Tobacco Control Research Group, All Rights Reserved.

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