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Agricultural Rehabilitation, Economic Growth, and Natural Resources Management Project

Bamboo propagation from cuttings in Timor-Leste

East Timor has some of the finest bamboos in the world, including the giant Dendrocalamus asper (au-betun) and Bambusa lako (au-metan, Timor Black). Timorese propagate these by clump divisions, a laborious process which only yields one plant per division. In December 2004 we conducted a workshop at the MAFF nursery in Triloca, Baucau, on propagation of bamboos from cuttings, a process which can rapidly produce hundreds of plants. We planted growing bamboo plants propagated during the workshop in Venilale in July 2005.

Notes on bamboo propagation for East Timor in Tetun and English, including Tetun translation of the text below. Adobe Acrobat PDF file, 94 KB.

All photos copyright 2004, 2005 by J. B. Friday and may be used only with permission.
Cutting stems of au-roma (species unidentified) for use as planting material. Culms are best cut at the onset of the growing season, here December, when they have stored up energy reserves. Two-year-old culms are best, as younger culms may be softer and not have stored up as much energy and older culms may have lost vigor.

Au-roma may be Gigantochloa atter. Thanks to Nigel Slator for the tentative identification.

Single-node sections are cut with a saw for planting. Any node with a bud may be used. The most viable nodes are in the middle third of the culm. The bottom of the culm without any buds may be used for construction. Longer branches are cut off after the first couple of nodes. Secondary branches may be discarded. Here yellow stripe bamboo is used (Bambusa vulgaris var. vittata.)
Cuts should be made as cleanly as possible using a sharp saw.
The very top of the culm where the main stem is as narrow as the branches is discarded and the leaves are eagerly eaten by livestock.
Potting mix is made of a 50:50 mixture of compost (here coffee pulp compost from the CCT) and river sand. The mixture should be well-drained but able to supply some nutrients to the growing bamboo.
Large (5 gal or 20 liter) poly bags are filled with the potting mixture. The bags are lined with newspaper to help retain moisture.
Cut sections are potted at a shallow angle in the poly bags with the node buried. The ends may be filled with water.
Potted cuttings are placed in the nursery and not moved or distrubed. They are watered daily.
Initially leaves drop but resprout within weeks.
After 7 months, some cuttings have grown new rhizomes and new culms.
The new shoot shown is not another branch but a new culm developed from a new rhizome. The plant is now on its way.
The initial shoots on this plant are finger diameter. Subsequent shoots are each larger in diameter until mature size is reached. Depending on the species of bamboo, this may take several years.
New shoots from new rhizomes may be seen to the left and the right of the branches in this photo.
Plants which had sprouted new shoots after 7 months were outplanted in a irrigated area, where they could be watered on daily basis. Other plants were left in the nursery awaiting the onset of the rainy season.
The extensive root development is shown when the poly bag is removed.
New rhizomes and new culms may be seen on the left of this photograph. The remnant section of the culm and old branches are on the right, with roots growing out of the node. This plant is ready to grow.
Bamboos were planted at the edge of a terraced garden where irrigation water from a spring was available. Bamboo grows best when it receives plenty of water.
Potted cuttings were planted at soil level in holes dug a little larger than the pots.
Both yellow and green bamboos were planted. These will need to be watered until the end of the dry season.
Huge clumps of au-betun, Dendrocalamus asper, in Venilale.
Black bamboo, au-metan, Bambusa lako, growing near Gariuai, Baucau.
Leaves and culms of the unidentified green, clumping bamboo, locally called au-roma. More photos of au-roma. If you can identify the species, please contact J. B. Friday.

Au-roma may be Gigantochloa atter. Thanks to Nigel Slator for the tentative identification.

Back to East Timor Project Agroforestry Home Page

The development issue is not the amount of money and expertise we can hand out, but the prophetic fire and depth we can communicate to ask new questions and summon people to take their destiny in their own hands, together as co-workers with God.

- Phillip Potter, quoted in Liklik Buk

Last updated on 7/10/2007