GLOBALG.A.P.’s farm assurance solutions are designed to promote the safeguarding of our environment and the welfare of farming communities. In this “Spotlight on Bamboo”, we consider how the further development of bamboo cultivation could improve the sustainability and profitability of farms and their surrounding communities in ways that are compatible with our system.


An astounding plant

Technically a grass, bamboo comes in an extremely diverse range of shapes and sizes. It is highly adaptable to cultivation on marginal lands in a broad range of tropical and subtropical climates around the world, and its rapid, energy-efficient growth make it a key crop of interest.

Guinness World Records lists bamboo as the world’s fastest growing plant, with vertical growth of 91cm observed in one day. Bamboo photosynthesis is exceptionally efficient, leading to greater CO 2 uptake and O 2 output per unit of land area than comparable tree forests. This rapid growth, both in size and biomass accumulation, and high metabolic efficiency suggest bamboo as a promising plant for cultivation as a climate-conscious renewable resource.

Bamboo is a perennial plant that, once established, does not require annual tillage. This benefit, along with bamboo’s extensive root system, reduces the likelihood of soil erosion in hilly terrain. Furthermore, bamboo’s natural pest and pathogen resistance make pesticide application generally unnecessary even under active cultivation.


A renewable resource

Bamboo is used as an ingredient in some human foods and livestock feeds, but is also of commercial interest as a renewable source for construction materials, textiles, and biomass for energy generation. Experts at the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) see bamboo cultivation as a key component of climate change mitigation efforts, both as a replacement for nonrenewable plastics and mined minerals used in manufacturing and construction, and as a way of relieving pressure on fragile natural forests that are being logged for firewood.

Bamboo-based options are now available for many everyday products, including textiles for clothing and bed linen, flooring and other building materials, dining and kitchen utensils, and paper goods. As an energy source, charcoal produced in sub-Saharan Africa from bamboo is a sustainable replacement for biomass collected from at-risk natural forests. Bamboo also shows promise as a feedstock for modern biofuels.


Economic benefits

In addition to its deforestation and erosion remediation benefits, bamboo cultivation is also seen as a viable additional source of income in the global south, especially in African, Asian, and South American countries where bamboo is native.

Bamboo products such as charcoal and building materials are used in local economies. Diversifying cropping systems by intercropping with bamboo can also improve food security and stabilize farm incomes in smallholder agroforestry settings. Bamboo can bridge cyclical income gaps when established plantings are harvested year round.


GLOBALG.A.P. – committed to sustainability

Our goal is to recognize producers for their efforts to continuously produce enough safe food while safeguarding our environment and the welfare of farming communities. We support an approach that identifies and addresses risks at farm level and helps producers achieve both their own sustainability goals and those of their markets. Read more here about GLOBALG.A.P.’s commitment to sustainable change.