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Project Brief

          SEUCO Leads in Rural Poverty Alleviation through Action Research

 The project has already established bamboo processing micro-enterprises and farmers co-operatives in each of the 4 four districts and developed an Action Plan to address the key issues surrounding the smallholder tobacco farmers in the area. Bamboo has been selected for experimentation because it is has over 2,000 environmental, health, household and industrial uses so far recorded. The new crop has also very high annual yields of 20-40 tons per hectare, its growth rate which is three times faster than eucalyptus, mature in about 3-4 years; harvests are possible for up to 80-120 years with very little investment and it promotes highly diversified community-based enterprises. Recent publications from the project indicate that bamboo is an answer to most tobacco related socio-cultural, economic, health and environmental problems in the region. The project is currently undertaking relevant research surveys and developing marketing structures to enable former tobacco farmers to easily shift to bamboo production and processing in a gradual process.


  • Most of the 80% tobacco production in Kenya is taking place in the Southern Nyanza region,western Kenya. The land under tobacco has continued to grow rapidly at the expense of traditional food crops and livestock activities. Environmental degradation through high demand on wood-fuel and chemical disposal. Serious occupational health issues, and demands the farmer's 90% time.
  • Over 15,000 farmers in the region are trapped in a tobacco-poverty vicious circle. All these tobacco issues have lead to increased poverty levels in the region due to lack of a viable long-term cash crop to small farmers.
  • Tobacco farming is labour intensive and child labour is common in tobacco production.
  • Tobacco farmers have limited rights in the contract agreed with tobacco companies.
  • Tobacco has limited uses and competitive market outlets.
  • Tobacco has adverse and widespread social cultural and gender conflicts in the region.
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 altenative 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.
  • 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.
Research Methodology

  • We have set up 241 bamboo field experimentation sites.
  • Four species (Dendrocalamus giganteus, Bambusa vulgaris. Bambusa tulda and abyssinica) of bamboo on trial.
  • Trained 241 bamboo small-scale farmers.
  • Formed 4 community-based Bamboo Farmers Co-operative Societies registered by the government of Kenya.
  • Conducted a survey of 440 households on livelihoods.
  • Focused group discussions with tobacco and non-tobacco farmers.
  • Interviews of local bamboo users and other actors.

Why Bamboo?
  • Has over 1500 uses so far recorded in the world.
  • Has light weight, high elasticity and great resistance to rapture, hence ideal for numerous uses.
  • Matures in about 3-5 years and can be harvested for up to 80-120 years with very little capital investments.
  • High annual yields of about 20- 40 tons per hectare in a well managed plantation.
  • Less demand for wood fuel during the treatment process.
  • Environmental conservation e.g. purification of air and polluted water bodies.
  • Ensures bio-remediation and improves soil fertility due to the decomposing leaves and sheaths.
  • Fewer risks associated with natural calamities like hailstones, diseases and fire out breaks.
  • Less labour intensive.
Expected Outcomes

  • Ranking of local livelihood strategies among the tobacco and non-tobacco farmers.
  • Development of Community Action Plans to reduce tobacco production through livelihood diversification.
  • Obtain information on bamboo market structure and performance in the region.
  • Establishment of a clear and viable bamboo market structure for the region and country
  • Establishment of 4 small-scale bamboo farmers' co-operative societies.
  • Assessment of local livelihood strategies among the tobacco and non-tobacco farmers in the 4 tobacco growing clusters in Kenya.
  • Development of sustainable partnerships with various stakeholders in order to reduce tobacco production, rural poverty and environmental degradation.
  • Development of local marketable bamboo product models/ products.
  • Development of Bamboo Business Plans for selected product chains to enable farmers shift from tobacco to bamboo production.
  • Research capacity building of 240 smallholder farmers and project staff through trainings.
  • Publication of results in scientific papers.
  • Development of policy briefs for key research tasks.
  • Development and publication of a communication strategy for the project.

                              For more information about bamboo production contact:-

                              South Eastern University College
                              (A Constituent College of the University Of Nairobi)
                              P. O. Box 170-90200, Kitui, Kenya
                              Tel. 020-2531395 (Nairobi),  Mobile: +254 703805841.
                              E-Mail      tobaccotobamboo@gmail.com
                              Website   www.tobaccotobamboo.org


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

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