More and more countries are now becoming interested in acquiring knowledge about bamboo and how this resource will be used in improving the quality of life of the people in the rural community. To cater to the needs of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) member countries including those who have interest in bamboo, a capacity building titled, Seminar on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of Bamboo Industry was held on April 9-23, 2015 at Beijing, China. The International Center for Bamboo and Rattan (ICBR) and INBAR organized the seminar which was sponsored by the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of the People's Republic of China.

 

The Aid Program comprised a two-week in-house training and field visit including one-day international workshop that aimed to raise awareness about the role SMEs' play in sustainable development. A total of 18 young and mid-career government officials (14 from Asia, 3 from Latin America and 1 from Caribbean) participated in the seminar. Participants had the opportunity to visit bamboo enterprises and became familiar with the bamboo SMEs development status in China. They were also able to have dialogue with entrepreneurs and policy makers from the national, provincial and county (town) level. Aside from the meetings and field visit, the program also provided international platform for all participants to exchange knowledge and experience from different countries and created opportunity to have future collaboration among themselves.

Conservation while doing business was one of the challenges that the seminar on bamboo tried to address. It was recognized that bamboo indeed could help boost the economy of the country without putting pressure on the environment and natural resources. To ensure a sustainable bamboo sector industry, the importance of having an enabling policy for each participating country was emphasized in the workshop. Considering the increasing labor cost in China, south-south collaboration or the movement of industries to use other countries in the production of bamboo products is a great opportunity for the bamboo sector. Common issues or constraints pertaining to bamboo SMEs include lack of information about bamboo resources, low public awareness on potential of bamboo and limited technical expertise related to product design and quality. Bamboo resources inventory, conduct of IEC or promotional campaigns and capacity building were among the strategies identified to address those mentioned issues. A national policy on bamboo sector like the Philippines' Executive Order 879 or the creation of Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) was also identified as a major strategy to ensure a sustainable bamboo industry. Myline O. Aparente, FERD and Digno C. Garcia, LESD