Joe Effiong, Uyo
A few years ago, bamboo tree otherwise called Nyanyaha or Uta in the different Akwa Ibom dialects, was seen as only good for staking of yam tendrils.
It is equally used as pillars to form mud houses or makeshift scaffolding at construction sites. It is thus regarded as the cheapest wood anybody can lay hands on.
A stick is usually sold at a very cheap price, sometimes as low as N20 each if not less. And it is seen as a poor man’s employment to go into the forest, mostly swampy areas to harvest them for sale to mostly subsistent farmers in the state.
But things are changing for nyanyaha; in fact, if care is not taken, a stick of nyanyaha may be more costly than a plantain bunch in the nearest future.
The reason is simple. While people are making efforts to plant plantains in their farm or around their building, nobody ever thinks of planting a bamboo. Instead, efforts have been made to uproot and burn its roots to stop it from spreading since it believed the it saps soil nutrients at the detriment of food crops. So nearly all the bamboos used in Akwa Ibom state for now grow in the wile.
Now it seems the time for bamboo to take its rightful place in the economy of the state has come, competing with other cash crops like palm trees, coconut trees or cocoa has come. It actually started a few years ago when the state started to use bamboo sticks to manufacture toothpicks at its Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme factory sited then at Ekom Iman in Etinan local government area. The factory also housed the pencil manufacturing section.
The person in charge of the toothpick section of the company, Mr. Christopher Shawa, had told the press then about the importance of bamboo..
“Bamboo is the major and only raw material in the production of toothpick. Three year-old bamboo is best fit, but a maximum of five years old is acceptable. Bamboo should be left to stand for 3 days after harvest before entering the factory.” he continued.
That was then. Now bamboo is commanding even more prestigious position in Akwa Ibom economy with the proposed industrial park billed to take off in a matter of months in Ikot Ekpene.
The state commissioner for trade and investment trade, Mr Ukpong Akpabio, while unveiling Ibom Portal for 2020, said that the state is resorting to industrial clusters to take advantage of the influx of direct foreign investment in the state.
“The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its first and second quarter report of 2018 listed Akwa Ibom as the second state after Lagos with the highest volume of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria. Within six months alone in 2018, we attracted $52.4m foreign capital. This inflow was achieved through His Excellency’s focused Industrialization Agenda.
“Between 2015 and 2019, the state attracted over 16 industries with an impressive value chain. Today, we have become the most investment friendly state in the nation with the highest ranking of peace, security and the ease of doing business.
“The Ministry of Trade and Investment seeks to build a strong and economically viable SME sector to complement the large industries and investments. This is because a healthy SME sector possesses the potentials to create wealth, employment opportunities and improved standards of living of the people. “
The proposed Ibom industrial cluster he said would be made up of 10 industrial sectors including textile, packaging, construction materials manufacturing as the ministry is seeking to build a strong and economically viable SME sector to complement the large industries and investments.
The 10 industrial sectors would be driven by not less than 48 industries on 22,000 hectares of land ; and when delivered, would create job opportunities, reduce overhead costs by employing alternative energy technologies, increase local tax base and revenue, contribute to the economic development of the state, maximize efficiency of businesses, create and adhere to design guidelines that promote efficiency, coordinate inputs/outputs amongst onsite industries to reduce waste, and enhance an infow of foreign direct investments. Akpabio said Gov Udom Emmanuel on 17th April, 2019 approved the establishment and procurement of machines for the Tissue (Dried Bamboo) production line.
“The production line will be used for the manufacturing of tissue rolls from 100% bamboo, one of the world’s fastest growing plants, eco-friendly and biodegradable.
“All the components of the production line have been received at the factory. In preparation for commencement of installation, the governor has approved the construction of a factory block to house the production line. The factory block with a floor area of 800sqm is in its completion stage. The production line requires an alternative power requirement of 475KVA. His Excellency, the governor had approved the purchase of two additional generating sets 500kva and 165kva to guarantee optimal power supply to all the constituent production units in the factory. A 16,000 litres diesel external tank was also constructed for ease of convenience and proper diesel management at the factory.
“An expatriate engineer from the People’s Republic of China arrived the factory on 28th December, 2019 to commence the installation of the component units of the production line. The installation is expected to last for 84 days. The installation process is ongoing.
“The initial raw materials (30,000 units of dry Bamboo) have already been procured and delivered to the factory for commencement of production.
“The ongoing installation will last for 84 days; test-run of the production line is expected between 1st – 5th April, 2020; final inspection of production line; commencement of production activities is on 15th April, 2020; launch of the first bamboo tissue roll – 30th April, 2020.”
Akpabio said the governor had further approved the upgrade of the plastics production line to produce more value-added products such as: ball point biro pens, disposable cups and plates, paint container handles, plastic cups, toothpick containers, hangers, etc
“These products which are all marketable will help the factory to run as a going concern and maximise its potentials for profit. the upgrade of the plastic production line will require the installation of already acquired machines as soon as it arrives in the state; to train and empower 3,000 SMEs and startups in the state every six months; to promote indigenous enterprise, industry and entrepreneurship spirit among Akwa Ibom youths and women; to create jobs opportunities for the successful trainees; to develop the vocational, technological and entrepreneurship skills of individual beneficiaries/trainees to inspire creative innovations; to raise not less than 24,000 viable SMEs before 2023 in line with governor’s vision under the completion agenda.”
So next time you see bamboo in Akwa Ibom, pay compliments. It may take over from oil.