What started as a farming feat in a small Indian village is flourishing as a multi-institution government program in India. The National Bamboo Mission was formed to take advantage of bamboo as “versatile group of plants which is capable of providing ecological, economic and livelihood security to the people.” As the country recognized the HUGE untapped potential of the bamboo plant, the National Bamboo Mission was formed to address issues relating to the development of bamboo in the country.
And while some countries leave bamboo propagation to the private sector or just ignore the potential completely, the National Bamboo Mission has adopted aggressive objectives including:
- Promoting the growth of the bamboo sector through an area based regionally differentiated strategy.
- Increasing the bamboo coverage in potential areas, with improved varieties to enhance yields.
- Promoting the marketing of bamboo and bamboo based handicrafts.
- Establishing the convergence and synergy among stake-holders for the development of bamboo.
- Promoting, developing and disseminating technologies through a seamless blend of traditional wisdom and modern scientific knowledge.
- Generating employment opportunities for skilled & unskilled persons, especially unemployed youths.
With a well-organized approach, the Indian government is using bamboo to tackle a wide range of social and economic challenges and working towards making its land and its people useful again as they grow and manufacture bamboo.
Recent accomplishments include the development and use of pre-fabricated bamboo homes in rural Indian villages. These homes are designed and built by the National Mission of Bamboo working with the Department of Science and Technology in New Delhi.
Around 150 families in the Leh region have received these houses in response to recent flash flooding that destroyed their own homes. While bamboo housing is always a benefit for building in earthquake prone regions (bamboo being flexible enough to bend yet strong enough to stay standing), the material is also targeted for a remote region like Leh because of its ease of transport.
Leh is located in one of the highest regions in India which is known for its scarcity of oxygen making it difficult for transporting workers and materials and makes building traditional houses a difficult task (it takes builders a week to acclimate before they can even begin the labor-intensive construction of traditional houses). Add to that the bone-chilling winters that residents endure and the situation could easily worsen. Instead, the National Bamboo Mission is rapidly assembling light pre-fabricated bamboo panels especially designed with proper insulation and easily assembled on a steel matrix foundation.
Says one resident of the neighboring village of Skurbchan upon witnessing the building of these houses: “It was like magic for us. We had lost all hopes of getting a home before winters setting in. This is such a relief.”
Back in a more-populated setting, the National Bamboo Mission also held an event recently to encourage clothing designers and models to go organic in their material selection. Everyone was asked to dip their hands in fluorescent green paint and leave a handprint on a white canvas to show their support. And while some ended up with handprints on their heads as well (!), the commitment in the room was clear with over 100 handprints on the canvas itself. It’s an amazing material that can be used for housing as well as clothing and bamboo fiber can be used for bamboo clothes, bamboo bath towels and even wicking socks!
With all that can be accomplished with the use of bamboo, there remains the question of why more countries aren’t working towards bamboo propagation as aggressively as India? In these United States, the shift from traditional crops to bamboo could revive regions like the Delta that are struggling with environmental and economic challenges.
For more on how bamboo is helping to change the world, visit the Green Earth News section on Bamboo’s Worldwide Impact.