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Post-pamdemic, bamboo holds potential to boost NE economy

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BY AROONIM BHUYAN

NEW DELHI, June 1: Though India has 30 per cent of the world’s bamboo resources found in the world’s largest growing area of 16 million hectares, it accounts for only 4.5 per cent of the global bamboo trade as compared to China which is far ahead with a share of 70 per cent. According to predictions by the NITI Aayog, against the current revenue of about Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 crore, bamboo in India has the potential to generate economic activities worth Rs 50,000 crore as well as to create employment opportunities in rural and remote parts of the country.

So, what lessons can India learn from China in improving its bamboo industry? And what are the potential and challenges with regard to building a sustainable institutional ecosystem for development of bamboo economy in the Indian Himalayan region including the northeastern states?

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A webinar organised by the Integrated Mountain Initiative on “”Building a sustainable ecosystem for bamboo economy in the Indian Himalayan region” looked precisely at these issues and the role that the sector can play in the post-Covid 19 pandemic scenario.

According to Durai Jairaman, Director (Global Programme) of International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), China’s bamboo sector is valued at $39 billion. Over eight million people are employed in this sector.

“They (China) started the bamboo sector in 1980. It took them 30-40 years to build this sector,” Jairaman explained.

He said that there are systems and consistency in the policies and strategy of China in the bamboo industry from which Indian can learn.

Stating that policies should include all important facades of the bamboo sector, he said that these should be in accordance with the different development stages of the sector. These include pre-industrial processing, industrial processing, rapid industrial development, expansion period, and environment-friendly production.

As for bamboo products, Jairaman cited panels, floors, pulp, dairy products, furniture, fibre, charcoal and drinks as examples.

He highlighted the fact that China’s bamboo industry is private-sector driven with large “dragon-head” enterprises supported by innovation and research and development.

S.T.S Lepacha, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Uttarakhand, lamented the fact that India has “so much of bamboo and little for commercial production”.

“Our plantations are very haphazard,” he said.

Citing as an example China’s Anji county where 35,000 farmers have been trained in the bamboo sector, Lepcha said that India should focus on bamboo growing clusters.

“We need to tap skills. Don’t stick to work hours. We need proper logistics,” he emphasised.

“There is no proper use of waste in India. Waste should be converted into wealth.”

Lepcha stressed on the use of digital technology for linking inventory to the market.

“That way, we can get the source of the bamboo. Development of supply chain management is very important.”

According to Lepcha, since bamboo is a very heavy material to transport, products should be made at the village level and the focus should be on last mile delivery.

He also highlighted the problems with machines in the bamboo industry in India.

“We import these machines from China and Taiwan. We need to train our manpower,” he said.

Kamesh Salam, founder and Executive Director of South Asia Bamboo Foundation, said that bamboo can be a substitute for plastic. This assumes significance given the global calls to avoid the use of plastic.

Alluding to the fact that the Covid-19 crisis should not be seen as a deterrent but an opportunity for the bamboo industry in the Northeast, he said that bamboo flowering in Mizoram happened as far back as in 1862 and the birth of the Mizo National Front insurgent group in the 20th century was also linked to this.

“Gandhiji said revive village industries. This is still relevant,” he said.

Stating that many industries in Mizoram are living on manufacturing of bamboo mats, Salam said that the sector can go beyond this and focus on food products like bamboo shoots.

“We are not doing enough value addition… Grooming, processing and finishing are the three important stages,” he stated.

Salam also pointed out the fact that Japan is keen to invest in the bamboo sector in the Northeast.

“Whenever the prime ministers of India and Japan meet, they talk about bamboo,” he said.

Stressing on the need for an integrated policy framework for the sector, he said that bamboo processing needs to be done near clusters.

“A uniform bamboo policy is needed for the Himalayan region and this should be linked with India’s Act East Policy,” Kamesh opined.

According to Dina Chhangte, a bamboo entrepreneur in Mizoram, Swedish furniture major IKEA’s foray into the bamboo sector is a big start-up and holds immense opportunities.

“Companies like Bambcore, Target, Homedepot and Rusta are importing bamboo from China,” Chhangte said. “They are looking for an alternative. Our government should encourage Indian bamboo (industry) machine manufacturers.”

Richa Ghansiyal of the Dehradun-based Alaya Studio was of the view that in India, there is a scatter-brained approach to the bamboo industry.

“We are walking blind-folded. In bamboo, we should have a capitalist-minded approach,” Ghansiyal said while highlighting the fact that artisans from Tripura are involved in all successful bamboo enterprises in India.

“We should look at a market where bamboo is irreplaceable like scaffoldings, chop sticks etc. We need to make ancillary industries for bamboo.”

Ghansiyal also lamented the fact that after the VAT stage in India where bamboo products were taxed at 5 per cent, post-GST, such products are now taxed per cent.

“These questions need to be answered,” she stated.

–ENDS (Photos attached)

BY AROONIM BHUYAN

NEW DELHI, June 1: Though India has 30 per cent of the world’s bamboo resources found in the world’s largest growing area of 16 million hectares, it accounts for only 4.5 per cent of the global bamboo trade as compared to China which is far ahead with a share of 70 per cent. According to predictions by the NITI Aayog, against the current revenue of about Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 crore, bamboo in India has the potential to generate economic activities worth Rs 50,000 crore as well as to create employment opportunities in rural and remote parts of the country.

So, what lessons can India learn from China in improving its bamboo industry? And what are the potential and challenges with regard to building a sustainable institutional ecosystem for development of bamboo economy in the Indian Himalayan region including the northeastern states?

A webinar organised by the Integrated Mountain Initiative on “”Building a sustainable ecosystem for bamboo economy in the Indian Himalayan region” looked precisely at these issues and the role that the sector can play in the post-Covid 19 pandemic scenario.

According to Durai Jairaman, Director (Global Programme) of International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), China’s bamboo sector is valued at $39 billion. Over eight million people are employed in this sector.

“They (China) started the bamboo sector in 1980. It took them 30-40 years to build this sector,” Jairaman explained.

He said that there are systems and consistency in the policies and strategy of China in the bamboo industry from which Indian can learn.

Stating that policies should include all important facades of the bamboo sector, he said that these should be in accordance with the different development stages of the sector. These include pre-industrial processing, industrial processing, rapid industrial development, expansion period, and environment-friendly production.

As for bamboo products, Jairaman cited panels, floors, pulp, dairy products, furniture, fibre, charcoal and drinks as examples.

He highlighted the fact that China’s bamboo industry is private-sector driven with large “dragon-head” enterprises supported by innovation and research and development.

S.T.S Lepacha, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Uttarakhand, lamented the fact that India has “so much of bamboo and little for commercial production”.

“Our plantations are very haphazard,” he said.

Citing as an example China’s Anji county where 35,000 farmers have been trained in the bamboo sector, Lepcha said that India should focus on bamboo growing clusters.

“We need to tap skills. Don’t stick to work hours. We need proper logistics,” he emphasised.

“There is no proper use of waste in India. Waste should be converted into wealth.”

Lepcha stressed on the use of digital technology for linking inventory to the market.

“That way, we can get the source of the bamboo. Development of supply chain management is very important.”

According to Lepcha, since bamboo is a very heavy material to transport, products should be made at the village level and the focus should be on last mile delivery.

He also highlighted the problems with machines in the bamboo industry in India.

“We import these machines from China and Taiwan. We need to train our manpower,” he said.

Kamesh Salam, founder and Executive Director of South Asia Bamboo Foundation, said that bamboo can be a substitute for plastic. This assumes significance given the global calls to avoid the use of plastic.

Alluding to the fact that the Covid-19 crisis should not be seen as a deterrent but an opportunity for the bamboo industry in the Northeast, he said that bamboo flowering in Mizoram happened as far back as in 1862 and the birth of the Mizo National Front insurgent group in the 20th century was also linked to this.

“Gandhiji said revive village industries. This is still relevant,” he said.

Stating that many industries in Mizoram are living on manufacturing of bamboo mats, Salam said that the sector can go beyond this and focus on food products like bamboo shoots.

“We are not doing enough value addition… Grooming, processing and finishing are the three important stages,” he stated.

Salam also pointed out the fact that Japan is keen to invest in the bamboo sector in the Northeast.

“Whenever the prime ministers of India and Japan meet, they talk about bamboo,” he said.

Stressing on the need for an integrated policy framework for the sector, he said that bamboo processing needs to be done near clusters.

“A uniform bamboo policy is needed for the Himalayan region and this should be linked with India’s Act East Policy,” Kamesh opined.

According to Dina Chhangte, a bamboo entrepreneur in Mizoram, Swedish furniture major IKEA’s foray into the bamboo sector is a big start-up and holds immense opportunities.

“Companies like Bambcore, Target, Homedepot and Rusta are importing bamboo from China,” Chhangte said. “They are looking for an alternative. Our government should encourage Indian bamboo (industry) machine manufacturers.”

Richa Ghansiyal of the Dehradun-based Alaya Studio was of the view that in India, there is a scatter-brained approach to the bamboo industry.

“We are walking blind-folded. In bamboo, we should have a capitalist-minded approach,” Ghansiyal said while highlighting the fact that artisans from Tripura are involved in all successful bamboo enterprises in India.

“We should look at a market where bamboo is irreplaceable like scaffoldings, chop sticks etc. We need to make ancillary industries for bamboo.”

Ghansiyal also lamented the fact that after the VAT stage in India where bamboo products were taxed at 5 per cent, post-GST, such products are now taxed per cent.

“These questions need to be answered,” she stated.