This shoot can help conserve environment, generate jobs

Panel chief stresses need to tap immense potential of Burma bamboo

 Chairman of Devaraja Urs Bidiru Vana Committee A C Lakshmana said, with 10 million hectares of forests in India and 4.5 lakh hectares of forests in Karnataka, bamboo can bring financial gains, generate employment and help conserve the environment, if the wisdom of experienced people in bamboo is utilised properly.

After distributing the first consignment of free bamboo to professional Medars under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) from the Forest department, under Hunsur division, at Periyapatna, recently, he said, the committee has decided to train the people of Kodagu to tap Burma bamboo shoots for use as vegetable and pickle. “Today Kodagu has sufficient Burma bamboo, supporting the farmers financially, as well as the Medars by providing raw materials. The committee is sending the first batch of 30 Medars to be trained in the Northeastern states for two weeks,” he said.

“Forest species are dynamic and are used for different uses at different times. There is bright future for bamboo in the next 50 years as fodder for wild animals, food for humans, moderator of environment, carbon sink and purifier of water as activated carbon,” said Lakshmana.

Centenary

Explaining about the history of Burma bamboo (Dendrocalamus brandisii), which is named after the first Inspector General of Forests in India Sir Dietrich Brandis, of Polish origin, around the 1850s, Lakshmana said, this bamboo has a chequered history since its introduction to Makuta range of forests in Kodagu district in 1916.

“It was introduced to Kodagu with the objective of using it as a raft for floating Gerjan and Poon timbers to Arabian Sea, via Barpole River. From Kozhikode port, the timber was exported to the shipping yards in England to be used as ship masts. Later, with the development of roads, there was no need to transport timber through Barpole River by rafts. So, Burma Bamboo, lay neglected on a two acre plot in the forest,” he said.

When I visited Kodagu in 1961, as a student of the Indian Forest College, I had seen this plot. When I was posted to Kodagu in 1973, I was fascinated by this thornless gentle giant and did some studies to multiply and raise a plantation,” Lakshmana said.

“Due to the dedicated efforts of G K Ganapathy, the then RFO of Makuta, we were able to multiply and raise plantations. Next year we had enough to distribute to farmers and estate owners. But they were reluctant to plant it on their lands for fear of its spreading,” he added.

I announced that if they want Balanji, silver oak, etc saplings from our nursery, they must plant Burma bamboo on their lands. The drive picked up and extended up to 1977. Later, other officers continued the drive and important among them were DFOs Kalappa and Appanna,” Lakshmana said.

RFO Girish, Medar leaders Raju, Devaraju, Akhshay Kumar and Puttamma were present.


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