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Rising cost of bamboo dampens spirit of local entrepreneurs, artisans, craftsmen

 February 25, 2020

Source: Imphal Free Press

 

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With the cost of bamboo hitting north in Manipur, local entrepreneurs, artisans and craftsmen continue to face an uphill task in making the best out of the given situation. The grim situation stands in complete contrast to the all visible glitter and show exhibited during the World Bamboo Workshop held in Imphal between February 4 and 8, 2019 by World Bamboo Organisation (WBO) with the official support of the government of Manipur.

However, bamboo trade watchers assert that the cost of bamboo in Manipur is the highest in India. A quick glance at the rates of commonly used bamboo varieties in the Imphal valley reveals that a fully grown variety Saneibi locally used for construction and making fishing net frame costs Rs 230-260. Utang for general construction costs Rs 200-220; Utang Khoi’s rate is Rs 200-220 per bamboo; Unan is sold at Rs 200-220; Uii used for basketry and handicrafts costs Rs 200-220; Long nga used for fishing net frame is priced at Rs 230-260; Wa mu used for house construction is sold at Rs 200-230; Khok wa used for pergola for ritual ceremonies costs Rs 110-160 etc.

Sources who are bamboo experts but do not want to be identified say that the trend is alarming as the Manipur State Bamboo Mission has taken up a huge 100% central assisted bamboo plantation under the National Bamboo Mission of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, government of India since 2007-08. 

“As such the mission has miserably failed to provide quality bamboo at affordable costs. This has also led to the failure of bamboo industry in the state whereas all the Northeast states are doing well. Most of the bamboo artisans and crafts-persons are living hand to mouth.  The much talked about 2019 World Bamboo workshop has not given any support to local entrepreneurs and artisans”, rued a bamboo enthusiast.

It may be recalled that three memorandums of understanding were signed between the government of Manipur and three companies – Dicma Trade, Mexico and Bangalore based M/S Growmore Biotech for bamboo tissue culture and cultivation etc and DASSO, USA. What is the outcome of the MOUs are still not known.

Another observer felt that even during the 2019 workshop, bamboo products were kept low profile and its total prize money was low compared to prize money for bamboo food competitions which was kept very high, alluding to the fact that the event was not aimed at promoting local bamboo crafts and enterprises.

During the Bamboo Workshop on March 4, 2019 a delegation of Manipur Development Association called on the Governor of Manipur and apprised her of the issues faced by the artisans of Manipur in bamboo and cane crafts in the state. It seems no tangible inputs have been put in place to address their problems.

During the inaugural ceremony of The Third World Bamboo Workshop on February 4, 2019 attended by Chief Minister N Biren Singh, World Bamboo Organization President Michel Abadie declared the state of Manipur as “Bamboo Capital of 2019”. However, by 2020, there is a serious need to rethink on the bamboo strategy currently pursued by the authorities in the state.

It should also be recalled that the declaration was an effort to call attention to the vast bamboo resources of Manipur, which totals almost 70% of the total amount of India’s bamboo stock. The theme of the 3rd World Bamboo Workshop was ‘Breaking the Challenges of Bamboo for a Better Future’, with presentations by experts from around the world and the opportunity for hands-on building experience, all aimed at stimulating interests and investments in the bamboo sector of Manipur and beyond.