Bamboo is an important means for generating income and improving the nutritional status of over 2 billion poor and disadvantaged people. It also provides the resource base for expanding Small and Medium Enterprise sector, providing employment and income generating opportunities to alleviate poverty. As such it constitutes an excellent entry point for local poverty alleviation initiatives.
Bamboo benefits rural-urban communities because it, (a) lends itself to agricultural approaches, (b) can be grown on non-agricultural land with annual harvests, (c) is easily processed by simple tools because it splits linearly, (d) bamboo based industrial development benefits the communities through its demand for human resources for growing, harvesting, transportation and processing of bamboo, (e) bamboo growth also works for land protection, soil quality improvements including improved water holding capacity, higher water capture and recharge benefiting agriculture and food security.
Bamboo remains an untapped avenue of economic growth in India. Its premise is that if the bamboo industry is pulled from its current status of a peripheral industry and pushed centre stage to being a prominent and profitable one it can successfully reverse economic downturns and bring an about-turn in the economic fortunes of the country. This would be particularly true for the Central Gondwana regions (CGR, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Western Uttar Pradesh) of the country where the resource is abundant and could be sustainably harvested in the years to come because of its amazingly quick propagation.
With its inherent properties, bamboo combines the best of forestry and agriculture. It holds the promise of rejuvenating watersheds and degraded lands, fortifying the country’s ecological security. What would distinguish growth in this sector is that it would directly benefit large sections of the rural poor, as they could be involved in the plantations, harvesting and primary processing bamboo units. The long-term relationship with this sector would help the economically disadvantaged sections escape the debilitating poverty trap. The development of the bamboo sector could follow in the footsteps of the dairy sector whose miraculous makeover has enabled 10.5 million farmer families earn a supplementary income of Rs 1,800 per month. This industry’s growth model has been successfully replicated in 22 states in the country and it spells hope for the bamboo sector.
The blueprint envisaged in meticulous detail here for the bamboo industry projects a growth in the sector from Rs 65 billion in 2003-2007 to Rs 240 billion in 2013-2017; a growth that would could even overtake that of the biggest bamboo economy of the world, China. The overarching model also projects an employment opportunity of 1.67 million in 2003-2007 that would climb sharply to 11 million in 2017. For example, the NER, whose economies have been trailing behind, the estimates are the bamboo sector can take their gross domestic product from Rs 230 billion in 2003 to Rs 290 billion in 2007 that would translate into a growth rate of 5 per cent. The bamboo industry would have a potential of employing a total of 1.88 million people in this region by 2017.
§ The global market for bamboo products USD 7 billion + per annum*
§ Bamboo based enterprises can prove to be the key in rural economic development and mass employment creation
§ Governments and local administration must provide sustained and consistent support if the sector is to develop
§ The future of global bamboo markets looks strong, driven by growing demand for sustainable wood-replacement products
§ The commercialization of recent technological innovations has created significant new market opportunities for floor tiles, laminated furniture, panels and activated carbon.
§ New, higher value added processing greatly increases the potential for poor economic development compared to traditional lower value enterprises. For example, every tonne of bamboo used for producing bamboo boards has 5 times more pro-poor financial impact than if used for paper.
§ Markets in US, EU, Australia and Japan present significant opportunities for several high value products
§ The competitiveness of future bamboo enterprises will be largely driven by ‘value added utilization’ of the entire bamboo plant.
*Bamboo shoots, furniture, handicrafts, chopsticks, blinds, tiles, panels, charcoal and activated carbon. The value for unprocessed bamboo used in construction industry is excluded.