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This Is The Story Of WUBU Bamboo In Guatemala

  • Podcast

ThinkBamboo Podcast: Season 1, Episode 2

The Bamboo Journey: How One Man Turned Failure into Success with Bamboo

In this episode, we had the pleasure of interviewing Juan Pablo Martinez, an Ecologist, Investigator, Entrepreneur and avid Bamboo ambassador, based in Guatemala. He shared with us his inspiring journey and his passion for bamboo.

It All Started With a Permaculture Project

Video Interview of Juan Pablo Martinez in regards of Bamboo

The full video podcast interview with Juan Pablo Martinez and JJ from

Video Interview Summary Quick-Links:

[00:05] Juan Pablo’s bamboo journey started with WUBU PermaGuate
[04:44] three stories bamboo house built in Guatemala using Guadua bamboo
[00:32] Starting a local business to produce wood products and charcoal
[13:17] Bamboo is a holistic system for development and climate mitigation
[17:31] Raw bamboo poles require proper curing
[21:47] They are considering certification for bamboo products in the future
[25:52] Company plans to plant 10,000 hectares of bamboo
[00:01] Cooperation is key to success in the bamboo industry

The Journey

Juan Pablo shared his story of how he started his bamboo journey 15 years ago with a, Wübu-PermaGuate, permacultural project located in Livingston, Izabal, at the margin of the Río Dulce in Guatemala, central America. He started with different species of trees and local plants, but due to a lack of funds, he did not have anyone to take care of his plants 24/7. People often stole or damaged his other plants, leading him to experiment with various cultivars.

ThinkBamboo PodCast Juan Pablo Martinez Wubu in Guatemala

Things Changed For Good With Guadua

Finally, he discovered Guadua seeds that thrived. The locals showed no interest, allowing his bamboo to grow undisturbed. Juan Pablo realized bamboo offered protection and theft-free growth for his plants. He was able to grow Yuca, plantains, and ginger, which grew well in the midst of the bamboo, and he started to get some production. This success led him to plant more bamboo, which is now the first plants that have already grown for six or seven years, and he is already selling bamboo poles.

Juan Pablo’s story is a great example of how perseverance and experimentation can lead to success. His bamboo journey started with failures and setbacks, but he kept trying and eventually found a way to make bamboo work for him. Today, he is sharing his knowledge and experience with others through ecotourism and helping to spread the word about the benefits of bamboo.

The Boucherie Bamboo Treatment Procedure

Juan Pablo understood the need to cure bamboo before selling it. He discovered the Boucherie treatment procedure, achieving a 100% success rate. Through trial and error, he learned how to use bamboo and built a beautiful A-shaped house that stood for five or six years, accommodating up to 20 people.

Wubu ecotourism in Guatemala – cabin build with local bamboo

Image: Bamboo is not limited to plantations but a regenerative holistic solution

Bamboo, a fast-growing and versatile plant, has been gaining interest worldwide, and Latin America is no exception. The use of bamboo has been expanding in the region, and more people are discovering its many benefits, such as its sustainability, durability, and beauty. In this context, an entrepreneur in Latin America has been growing and selling bamboo and bamboo products for several years and has seen a lot of interest from people who want to learn more about the plant and its uses.

Wubu Bamboo Plantation in Guatemala

In the past five years, many people have come to his property, located about ten kilometers away from his neighbor’s houses, to see his bamboo plantation, learn about how it grows, and see what he and his employees are doing with it. They have taken videos and shown a lot of interest in his bamboo furniture and companion planting techniques. The entrepreneur has been selling a lot of bamboo poles and plants and has even signed some collaboration projects with local universities.

The entrepreneur hosts 20 students from architectural and engineering studies at a local university, allowing them hands-on experience with bamboo. He plans to offer more workshops to educate people about bamboo and its uses.

WUBU partners and Supporters

Collaboration with Universities for students from architectural and engineering

The entrepreneur offers advice to consumers buying bamboo products. Industrialized bamboo products are typically of high quality. However, when selecting raw bamboo poles, it is important to choose carefully and ensure proper curing to prevent insect damage. Pablo recommends to cure bamboo below shade.

Entrepreneurs like the one described here contribute to the growing interest in bamboo in Latin America. Sharing knowledge and experience helps more people discover bamboo’s benefits and encourages innovative uses of this versatile plant.

Bamboo’s popularity as a sustainable building material grows due to its fast growth and durability. Latin American countries use bamboo for construction, while Switzerland and other European countries require certifications for quality and safety assurance.

Areas ready to plant Bamboo in Guatemala

Certifications like ISO ensure construction project quality and safety, common in Europe but not widely used in Latin America. As bamboo gains acceptance as a building material, certifications may be necessary.

Bamboo producers struggle to propagate new plants as bamboo seldom produces seeds before dying. They propagate from bamboo or work with grown seedlings to grow new plants.

Wubu plans to plant 10,000 hectares of bamboo over the next five years and already have 25,000 Guadua plants ready for propagation. With the use of sustainable practices such as bamboo farming and certification processes, the future of bamboo as a building material looks promising.


Overall, Juan Pablo’s passion and commitment to bamboo are truly inspiring. His work with Wübu is a testament to the incredible potential of bamboo as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials. We hope that this interview has given you a better understanding of the importance of bamboo and its role in building a more sustainable future. Thank you for listening to the ThinkBamboo Podcast, and stay tuned for more episodes featuring bamboo entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from around the world.

Bamboo Photos From Wübu in Guatemala

Guadua Angustifolia and Dendrocalamus Asper Bamboo

Juan Pablo also talked about the different types of Guadua angustifolia, and how the Colombian Guadua bamboo is very straight and has no thorns, making it ideal for bamboo farmers like himself. He explained that the thorny variety is good for complicated neighbours but is more of a challenge for harvesting.