The utility and economic value of the bamboo plants in the state has come under spotlight with agro experts airing the opinion that bamboo products have immense potential to emerge as a viable source of income generation in rural parts of Odisha.
In an attempt to boost rural income generation through artistic and gorgeous-looking bamboo craft, the Odisha government in the meanwhile initiated steps to achieve the holistic development of the creative art form with an Rs 7.21 crore worth project.
Bamboo, which is an inseparable part of rural livelihood in the state, has immense potential to revamp the rural economy, according to experts.
Odisha has 9 per cent of the country’s total bamboo forest cover. Because of its multifarious utility value, bamboo could emerge as an effective tool for achieving economic and social sustainability in backward rural parts.
The presence of bamboo is everywhere in rural households of western districts of the state. The bamboo products are entwined with people’s life and culture here. Right from agricultural implements to mud-walled house construction, bamboo’s use could be seen everywhere. One could find artistic dexterity in artisans who are making bamboo products. There is the need for market linking of their products.
Bamboo is one of the most important nature’s substitutes for the endangered forest hardwoods and partially energy intensive steel, plastic and other construction materials and lifestyle products.
It’s a zero waste potential as all the parts can be utilized. It is a quick-growing (maturity cycle of 3-5 years), versatile resource that grows annually at 10-30 per cent compared to 2-5 per cent for trees that can take 40-50 yrs. It has a tensile strength of 28,000 lb/sq. inch compared to 23,000 lb/sq. inch for mild steel, making it world’s best natural engineering materials, and an essential component of earthquake resistant construction and prefabricated housing. 1 tonne of steel leads to 2 tonnes of carbon emission whereas bamboo uses carbon di-oxide and releases oxygen, they said.
There is immense scope for harnessing bamboo by upgrading the existing products and introducing new products linked with markets. It’s a fast-growing species with a life cycle varying 3 to five years. Though it grows tall like a tree, it belongs to the grass family. It can withstand drought as well as flood. It prevents soil erosion due to its widespread root. It acts as a protective barrier to the river bank from soil erosion and acts as a windbreaker. It can grow in regions where other crops fail due to drought, they said.
‘Bamboo Craft’ is one of the approved crafts of the State. Although the craft is practiced in almost all districts of the State, most artisans concentration on bamboo crafts are found in districts like Dhenkanal, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Bargarh, Subarnapur, Khurda, Rayagada, Nayagarh, Kandhamal, Malkangiri and Sundergarh. The artisan population of the State in the craft is about 22,000.