Centre re-casts bamboo mission to boost commercial use

With an eye on boosting farmers' income, the government on Wednesday approved a re-structured National Bamboo Mission to promote commercial cultivation and develop farm-to-industry linkages.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sanctioned Rs 1,290 crore for implementation of the mission over a period of two years.

The mission aims at bringing one lakh hectares under bamboo plantation and set up about 4,000 product development units that include manufacturing high-end products such as flooring, wall cladding and furniture from bamboo.

The National Bamboo Mission was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in 2006-07 mainly to encourage bamboo cultivation but there was little emphasis on commercial exploitation of the crop.

“There was weak linkage between the producers (farmers) and the industry,” an official statement said.

It said the restructured mission gives simultaneous emphasis to the propagation of quality plantations of bamboo, product development and value addition including primary processing and treatment.

The mission will focus on development of bamboo in limited states where it has a social, commercial and economic advantage.

Besides the north-eastern region, the states include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The mission strives to increase the area under bamboo plantation in non-forest government and private lands to supplement farm income and contribute towards resilience of climate change.

Last year, the government amended the Indian Forest Act to exclude bamboo from the definition of a tree and classified it as grass thus enabling its commercial use in making furniture, paper, and as a food product.

India has about 136 species of bamboo, making it the country with the highest biodiversity and the second-highest bamboo area, after China.

Though India has 19% share of the world's area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in the sector is only 6%.

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