Bamboo, commonly known as poor man’s timber, has now gained the epithet ‘green gold’. One could find it hard to believe, but it has been proven that bamboo survived the atomic devastation of Hiroshima in 1945. The plant provided the first re-greening of Hiroshima closer to ground zero after the atomic bombardment. Among its myriad qualities, the growth rate of bamboo is amazingly fast. No plant on the planet features a faster growth rate, as maintained by experts. Bamboo can be harvested in one to five years, while hardwood trees take at least forty years before they can be harvested. It can be a viable alternative for hardwoods, and therefore, bamboo promises to be one of the highly reliable renewable resources of the planet. On the 6th World Bamboo Day, an event which has been gaining momentum across the world, the organisers of Manipur edition deserves commendation. In lieu of organising the function, as most often is the case, somewhere in Imphal, the organisers took it to a rural village. The choice of Kangsim village under Chandel District is even more appropriate. The village is inhabited by the Khoibu tribe, who are known for their skill in bamboo craft. Organising a function of this scale will certainly help in opening new vistas for the village craftsmen, who are directly involved in bamboo based productions. Exposure to new boundaries of bamboo craft and its potentials as a viable source of economy is a much needed exercise. Khangsim village of Manipur is just one example. In fact, bamboo is a plant that is abundant in the Northeast part of India, and also particularly in most parts of the State, either in the hills or plain. According to experts, the Northeast has two-third of the bamboo resources of the country. The State has more than 50 varieties of bamboo. This ‘Green Gold’, as in most Asian countries, has been integral to life of almost all the ethnic communities of Manipur. With the current global demand of bamboo products, the State of Manipur can surge ahead, for which a right direction and serious initiative are needed. The National Bamboo Mission, NBM in this regard has an important role to play, with its objectives to promote growth of bamboo; to promote marketing of bamboo products, and to promote and develop technologies of bamboo based products. With its objectives, NBM envisages to promote employment opportunities to the rural poor and marginalised craftsmen. Under its mission, State chapters of Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura already have their own State bamboo policy. The State of Tripura is well ahead of its counterparts in the Northeast. Tripura has been the first State to have Bamboo Park in the Country. The State had even tied up with China’s Nanjing Forestry University, for development of the park in 2007. Disgracefully, the Manipur State chapter of the NBM has been in slumber, without a State bamboo policy. All these while, the State has been trying to promote tourism, without giving attention to the ‘Green Gold’. Bamboo industry and its products can be one of the vital components of tourism industry. A resource which is available in abundance has been neglected. But there are few people, who have been working hard for promoting bamboo industry without any support from the government. Perhaps, they are light at the end of the long tunnel, however faint the glow may be.
Leader Writer: Senate Kh