Bamboo shoots up in Eastern Cape

first_imgBamboo cultivation and its use in productsranging from furniture to biofuel andbaskets, is set to take off in the EasternCape province.(Image: Wikimedia)Emily van RijswijckIt is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and has a multiplicity of uses, from the manufacture of biofuel to decor accessories, furniture and building materials.A miracle plant? No, just the ordinary bamboo, a plant usually associated with Asia and giant pandas, but one which also proves to be well adapted to the dryer conditions of the Eastern Cape.And it is these qualities – and the potential to alleviate poverty in South Africa’s poorest province – which have convinced the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to embark on pilot projects for the cultivation and production of bamboo and its related products.Already a one hectare plot at St Albans near Port Elizabeth has been planted with the evergreen grass, with another two, larger projects of five hectares each taking shape in Centani in the former Transkei and at Ndakana near Stutterheim.The three projects are funded by the ECDC for the benefit of the Eastern Cape community and the plants will be harvested according to the market that is available at that time, confirmed Ken Bern, regional head of the East London-based ECDC.“We are hoping to be able to harvest the first shoots for hand weaving in two years’ time,” he said. For hardwood products used in the making of floorboards or furniture, the bamboo shoots would have to be matured to at least five years.Economically viable within five yearsBamboo can grow at an incredible rate. In temperate conditions it shoots up at three to 10 centimetres per day; in ideal conditions by as much as 100 centimetres per day. One hectare can yield anything from 20 to 40 tons of bamboo and can be economically viable within five years of planting.But it is its incredible adaptability to different, often poor soil conditions and its numerous applications which makes it such an attractive crop, especially for the poorer rural communities of the Eastern Cape.Clumps of these plants can be found around the province, showing that it can grow here successfully, said Pelo Gabaraane, MD of SA Bamboo, the company which has been commissioned by the ECDC to manage the Centani and Ndakana pilots.“The plant is regenerative and fast growing, and provides tremendous potential to fight poverty in the province.”Gabaraane and his colleague Nkosinathi William are project managers at the Centani and Ndakana plantations.Five people have already been employed at each plot and will actively be running the project, with SA Bamboo overseeing operations. For the moment the projects will remain small as this provides the ideal conditions for training the community in the aspects of cultivation and processing, said Gabaraane.“For the moment, the projects are not economically viable. It is simply useful as a teaching mechanism,” he confirmed.The bamboo organisation is already in negotiations with the Department of Economic Development to secure funds for the eventual extension of the project in Ndakana to 300 hectares to achieve greater economic viability, said Gabaraane.At least 300 people will be able to find direct employment at a project of this scale. In the meantime, while the bamboo shoots are small, the land will also be used for intercropping with the planting of vegetables between the bamboo rows.Downstream productsThe pilot projects will focus on passing on skills training for the supply of raw materials in three bamboo related products: basket weaving; furniture and building materials; and biofuels.At the moment South African bamboo furniture producers import all their raw materials from oversees. The Eastern Cape community has the potential to eventually tap into this lucrative market once they start to produce their own bamboo crops on large a scale, Gabaraane believes.“It is important to realise that there are two aspects to the pilot projects, both of which provides skill transfer and employment opportunities,” he said. ”These are the actual cultivating of the product and the downstream processing of the product. We want to make sure that the projects bring about real, viable economic benefits to the larger Eastern Cape community in the long term.”The basket weaving project gets going in January 2012 in Ndakana, with SA Bamboo sourcing mature plants from around the province to train five local women in the equipment and weaving processes used. These products will be available in curio shops around the area.“We believe the community has to be involved in the project from the beginning, from the actual planning phases all the way to the growing and processing of the raw product.”A big stalk of grass Genetically speaking, bamboo is just a very big, sturdy stalk of grass: a stalk of grass with amazing properties. It is said to be able to absorb 30% more carbon than trees and has the ability to grow rapidly in diverse conditions.While pine plantations will only be able to yield a harvest in 20 years, producers of bamboo will be able to harvest their bamboo in no more than five years.In South Africa, the Indian species Bambusa balcooa has been completely naturalised and has been around for over 300 years. As a hardwood for furniture and building related applications, it has no equal.South Africa only has one indigenous bamboo species, the hardy Thamnocalamus tessellatus or berg bamboo. This plant grows in its typical clumps all around the colder Drakensberg region in the south-east of the country.last_img read more

Servant Mentorship

first_imgAlmost everyone recognizes how important mentoring is.  I don’t know anyone who is successful who did not have at least one good mentor. I  know I am grateful for mine.Similarly, I don’t know any good leaders who don’t mentor to some degree.  It is more than a mark of a good leader; the mentoring makes the leader stronger by what he or she learns from the mentee.Of course, people define mentoring differently.  It should be more simply than showing someone the ropes or sharing inside baseball.A good mentor should have a vested interest in helping his or her mentee succeed.  Yes, I recognize that this definition begins to bleed into sponsorship as many define it.However, I believe the line between mentorship and sponsorship can be somewhat artificial.  In my views, the best mentorships include a sponsorship component.  The term I use is “servant mentorship.”One way that mentors can sponsor mentees is by opening doors for them.  “I can’t do this but I think this would be a great opportunity for you.”In these cases, the mentor feels good about the opportunity that he or she has provided. While this may benefit the mentee too, the mentor is benefiting by having someone safe do what he or she cannot.Don’t get me wrong.  That’s not a bad thing.  But it’s not as wonderful as it may make the mentor feel.For me, the best test as to whether someone is a servant mentor is whether they lean back so their mentee can lean in.  That means giving up an opportunity for the mentee so that he or she can grow.“I can do this, but I think you would be great. If you want it, it’s yours.”Mentees know the difference.  And, I believe, they respond in kind.Opening a door for someone when you cannot walk in is not “servant mentorship.”  Not walking in the door when you can but sending your mentee instead is.Next month I will be giving my monthly slot to a mentee.  Thank you to SHRM for joining me in service mentorship.last_img read more

What Do You Think? RateItAll Rolls Out Additional Social Features

first_imgFacebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Related Posts When we last spent time with RateItAll – roughly 18 months ago – the service had just released a Flash-based widget designed to help extend its reach to blogs. Today, we’re checking back in with the company as it rolls out a new look-and-feel, accompanied by a number of new features designed to facilitate recommendations on practically any topic imaginable – while increasing the social aspects of the site for its growing user base. As any aficionado of the social Web knows, one of the biggest benefits of social networking is the opportunity to access hundreds – if not thousands – of opinions with a couple of keystrokes. Any number of sites have made a business of focusing on a singular topic – like movies, music, or restaurants – and helping users manage social recommendations within that niche. Some sites, like Yelp, have chosen to cover a broader range of topics, like retail outlets that cover anything from restaurants to shopping. But few have taken social recommendations to the extent of RateItAll, a site that eschews the niche focus in favor of giving its users the option of rating anything and everything. Now, RateItAll has released a number of new features to increase the social interaction among its users, including a new feed format which allows users to follow streams of reviews based on keywords and compatibility quizzes – similar to the ever-prevalent Facebook quizzes – which allow RateItAll users to meet other users with similar interests. In short, the latest version of RateItAll is designed to help people find their peers – and to share their reviews with people who share similar interests.Founded in 1999, RateItAll claims to have “one of the largest collections of consumer-generated content in the world.” Lately, it has seen growth in its user base and dataset, a 44% increase since midyear 2008. But, even with its breadth of content, RateItAll hasn’t seen the exponential growth of some of its younger – and more focused – competition. Managed by a small team, the site has already managed to deliver a nice set of features and some compelling content areas. Now, all it needs is the increased user base to take advantage of the offerings. It will be interesting to see if these new social features – plus access to a new API which has the potential to deliver more content to the site – spark some of that exponential growth for RateItAll. To register for the service, share your opinions, and try the new features, visit RateItAll. The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img Tags:#Recommendation Engines#social networks#web Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification rick turoczy 1last_img read more