Significance of Bamboo for sustainable

development in Arunachal Pradesh

[ R K Taj ]

Bamboo is the fastest growing grass, highly versatile, renewable, strong and low cost eco-friendly natural resource, which has the potential to improve livelihood security in both rural and urban areas. Today bamboo is the substitute of wood-based industries and it has replaced wood timber very effectively.

Bamboos as a plant mitigate climate change, as an efficient carbon sink, highly embodied energy and enhance environmental amelioration. Bamboo has been a means of life for food, fire wood, shelter, medicine, agricultural tools and daily household items. This inherent legacy has become a secondary source of income and livelihood, augmenting the capabilities of the artisans and craftsmen providing economic growth of people of Arunachal Pradesh.

It is recorded that 78 innovative products valued at Rs.17,000 can be made from a single bamboo culm of Dendrocalamus latiflorous. This has showcased the value and potential of bamboo handicraft sector which is socially symbolic and significant. The bamboo mat board, tiles, roofing materials, corrugated sheet, panelling, pulp and paper are emerging with high demand.

 The people of Arunachal Pradesh have inherent legacy with bamboo as source of income and livelihood. There are emerging industrial and large scale applications too in the manufacture of wood substitutes and composite fibre, energy, charcoal and activated carbon. Building and structural components represent vast possibility for enterprise, value addition and income and employment generation.

There are 1250 different bamboo species with total area of 22 million hectares in the world. India with 139 species with 8.96 million hectares of land under bamboo forests, out of which 98 species with 2.31 million hectares in North East India and Arunachal Pradesh having more than 75 species and occupies 50 percent of total bamboo diversity in India with 16,083 sq. km under mixed bamboo forests and 325.74 Sq.km under pure patches. About 5 lakhs population of the state are directly dependent on bamboo out of 13, 82,611 population (2011 census).

India, China and Myanmar have the highest bamboo reserves in the world with 19.8 million hectares of the world bamboo forests. Out of this, India share 45 percent with only 4% of its global market. The government would like to see its bamboo industry concentrated in the North East part of the country and hopes to create 8 million jobs in bamboo based industry lifting 5 million families out of poverty earning 160 billion in revenue. In the backdrop, the then planning Commission of India had launched National Bamboo Mission (NBM) under Ministry of Agriculture  and Cooperation  and National Mission on Bamboo Application (NMBA) under DST (2006-07). The major objectives are to commercialize bamboo at farmers’ level. The focus is on comprehensive development of bamboo resources as a marketable commodity with more emphasis on farm lands. A linkage of bamboo farmers with bamboo artisans will also be made, beside wherever feasible bamboo projects will also be promoted for development of degraded forest land. The NABARD has also already initiated few activities in development of bamboo sector.

Recently, the government had established Arunachal Pradesh Bamboo Resources & Development Agency as an independent body to look after the growth of bamboo sector in the state. The agency had proposed to set up its office complex at Lekhi village, Naharlagun with an area of four hectares donated by private individuals. For the sustainable and effective use of this donated land, APBRDA proposed to have Bamboo Technology Park with following components (i) World Class Craft Heritage Museum, (ii) Urban Craft Haat, (iii) Hi-Tech bamboo nursery (iv) Bamboo based Traditional Housing, (v) Bamboo Bridge, (vi) Common Facility Centre (CFC), etc. The agency had already constructed small unit Common Facility Centre (CFC) under the support of Ministry of Textile, Govt. of India.

Under the initiatives of the state government, one of the best bamboo-setum in the country has been set up at Van-Vigyan Kendra Chessa, research field station of SFRI. Also world best wood timber substitute bamboo species Chinese Moso (Phyllostachys pubescens) demonstration plot located at Yachuli for training and demonstration purpose,  Poma Bamboo Processing Centre had been established at Poma village, which is 7 KM away from Itanagar by the initiative of Raj Bhawan and handed over to Poma Village Development Society, Pitchola Wood Timber Saw Mill under APFCL will be soon converted to bamboo based industry and will be run on PPP mode. APIL, Namsai, Patkai Bamboo Pvt. Ltd., Arunachal Agro-Product Ltd. Naharlagun, BKL, Kimin, Zignu Bamboo Industry Namsai and Siang Bamboo Pvt. Ltd are managed and run by private individuals. As of now, state is having the highest bamboo based industry in the region. Various community based welfare programmes such as organized bamboo bazaar, bamboo whole-sale market, bamboo treatment plant, retail out let, SSI units, etc. has been initiated under different funding agencies.

Recently, Chempolies, Finland based Bio-Refinery Company for Ethanol production through bamboo has also been communicated to buy entire bamboo production of the state, which is under process for MoU with state government. Also supply of bamboo to Nagaon Paper Mill through railway is also in progress.

The people are highly motivated in bamboo development sector in state and accepted it as one of the best source of income generation. The state government had also planned to promote bamboo market on cooperative system within the village level so that every members of the village can sale their bamboos through organized market.

The world best bamboo species, Chinese Moso (Phyllostachys pubescens) has also been introduced at various pockets of subtropical to temperate region of the state through individual and community participation on trial basis and the experimental results are encouraging and it is expected that Arunachal Pradesh will be the highest bamboo producer state in the country after 10-15 years.

Most of the bamboo based industries in India are still on experimental trial, therefore product quality are inferior as compared to other advanced countries.

Machineries and equipment used in bamboo industry in India are of poor quality.

Quality and innovative products are still lacking so that our products are not in position to compete with the products of other advanced countries.

As per requirement of the factory, raw materials are not available near industrial buffer zones.  Most of the bamboo distribution areas are in accessible hilly terrains and difficult for extraction and transportation. The cultivated and superior quality bamboos are generally procured from local people of that particular areas and cost per bamboo is higher.

The labour wages are generally higher (Rs.150-200) as compared to other parts of the country which blocks the growth of bamboo industry in the state.

In hilly states of North Eastern Region of India transportation bottle neck is the major constraint in growth of bamboo based industries.

Development of bamboo extraction roads in selected bamboo belts, subsidy on transportation of bamboo in hilly areas should be implemented and provide highly subsidized tool kits to rural artesian and craftsman, promote  best quality bamboo species such as Phyllostachys pubescens, Dendrocalamus asper,Phyllostachys manii and Bambusa tulda as per suitability of the Agro-Climatic condition.

Any funding for development of bamboo based industries need to be implemented through state government for proper accountability and special financial package for development of bamboo industry and marketing. (The contributor is a Scientist at SFRI & Member, SDFA. He can be reached at rktaj-_meso@rediffmail.com)

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