• Bamboo is an integral part of our life and culture, as it is used in religious ceremonies, art and music. Thus it is o mystical plant that engulfs our daily lives. For tribal and forest dwellers “bamboo for living and living with bamboo” is still the norm.
    This offers an excellent starting point in increasing employment, income generation and improving nutritional status of rural poor. Since bamboo can provide the basis for expanding small and medium enterprise sector, it offers an effective mechanism for rural poverty alleviation and livelihood securities.

New Initiatives boosting bamboo cultivation:

  1. In order to boost bamboo cultivation on a commercial level, the Government of Himachal Pradesh (HP) will constitute a State Level Bamboo Development Agency (SLBDA) along with setting up of bamboo economic zones as per industry requirement. Many areas in the lower parts of HP have immense potential for growing bamboo which is in great demand by industries. As such, the setting up of a board would help farmers to take to bamboo cultivation, specifically in view of heavy demand from industries.
  2. The Government of Telangana has decided in June, 2018 to launch a massive bamboo plantations project on 506 hectares (1,250 acres) to provide a source of sustainable income to farmers.
  3. Maharashtra State is quite keen on promoting bamboo as a source of income for farmers. In August, 2018 it created the Maharashtra Bamboo Development Board (MBDB) for this purpose. It ensures that village communities have total control over the sale of bamboo and not the Forest Department. It even set up a bamboo research centre funded by the Tata Group.
  4. Japanese Government may extend help to Mizoram in the development of its bamboo industry and road construction projects. Along with this, it may help in alleviating the impact of natural disasters in the area. The push will be towards setting up an industry for the value addition to the state's bamboo resources. It lacks major industry that could harness the potential of its resources.
  5. TRIFED, an apex body under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India would open establishments to train tribal people in using bamboo optimally with zero waste and make agarbatti, matchboxes and even textiles. This would help in augmenting tribals' income and opening of markets.

Way forward:

  • To arrest the pace of land degradation in the country, a national programme of intensive bamboo plantation involving all stakeholders need to be undertaken beyond 2019-20.
  • Following the footsteps of China, Indian Government needs to support rural farmers to establish bamboo plantations in barren lands and slopes. The national housing scheme (PMAY) should utilize bamboo as a construction material. Developing bamboo as a load bearing structural element would pave the way for its high value application in construction which can make bamboo cultivation an economically viable way of greening the vast wastelands (Smita Chugh, Bamboo-A Green Option for Housing).
  • Edible bamboo has huge demand in East Asian cuisine and medicine. Bamboo grown in the North East (which is 66 percent of growing bamboo stock in India) can be exported to East Asian countries like Japan and Taiwan for competitive prices with the Government's support. There is a big market in the agarbatti industry. India imports 35,000 tonnes of round sticks from Vietnam and China. Earlier, square ones were hand made from bamboo, in the North East. But when the technology changed and machines took over, round sticks were preferred.
  • India produces 3,000 tonnes of them. The entire activity can be indigenised by local cultivation of bamboo of a particular variety required by the industry. It is observed that illegal bamboo export to Bangladesh and Myanmar accounts for 13 percent of usage. As mentioned before that the country imports sizeable bamboo stocks due to shortage, there is an urgent need to stop this illegal trading of bamboo.

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Courtesy: Kurukshetra