Bamboo cultivation can generate rural jobs

Kathmandu, August 9:

Bamboo cultivation can develop great potential for rural employment through increased cultivation and by increasing value-adding activities.

According to a GTZ’s report on ‘Bamboo in Nepal’, Nepal has a predominantly rural population — 85 per cent — and the fast growing but small urban population is 15 per cent. In order to uplift the economic situation of the rural poor, the government and international organisations are supporting rural producers to make use of locally available resources to produce commodities for income generation.

The annual global consumption of bamboo is around $7 billion, of which China’s share is $6 billion. The size of the annual bamboo market in Nepal is estimated at around Rs 1 billion ($12 million). It has been estimated that the total growing stock of bamboo in Nepal is around 15 million cubic meters with an approximate biomass value of 1060 metric tonnes, says the report.

Annual production of bamboo culms in Nepal is estimated to be 3.01 million. It is estimated that around 6,00,000-70,000 culms of bamboo are traded over the commercial domestic market in a year. Of the remaining 2.04 million culms, 1.9 millions culms are consumed locally and the rest traded to India. An estimated 102 metric tonnes of bamboo shoots (Tama) are also produced and sold in Nepal annually and which are consumed locally.

The reports states that a typical rate paid to bamboo collectors for cutting bamboo is two to three rupees per culm. The farm gate price is around Rs 10-15 per bamboo culm. The traders are found to be selling at around Rs 70-90 per depending upon where and whom they are selling to. The selling price of culms at the depots ranges from Rs 95 to Rs 120 per culm. In handicraft making, a Rs 100 worth of bamboo culm can generate product value up to Rs 3,000.

Bamboo is mainly cultivated in the Eastern, Central and Western Development regions. Officially there are 50 species of bamboo found in Nepal but research is going on and experts think there are more than 60 species. Annapurna Das, director general at the department of National Park and Wild Life Conservation

said, “Cultivation of bamboo can create high economic development as it has great potential. Bamboo is not only used for making handicraft and for consumption as Tama, it has medicinal values too.”

More than 2.5 billion people, mostly poor in the developing countries, rely on bamboo for income, food and shelter and sustenance. “In Nepal bamboo is a sole livelihood for than five lakh of people in the rural area.”

It is very nutritious

with low fat. It can be used to prepare embankments and to control floods. It

is the fastest growing species which can be cultivated with low investment and lots of potential. In

rural Nepal, bamboo is commonly cultivated either as sole crop or with combination of other agricultural crops and trees.

“I think if the government and NGOs and INGOs focus on its development, it can be the main source of economic development as well as creating employment opportunities for the poor people in rural areas too,” added Das.

Bamboo has been traditionally used in rural and urban areas in Nepal for domestic and commercial uses. The majority of bamboo traders deal in traditional households and kitchen items such as baskets, trays, containers, stools and bamboo racks.