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Bamboo based entrepreneurship can benefit rural women

Dec 17, 2014

Dr A K Bhattacharya, Mission Director of the Madhya Pradesh State Bamboo Mission, in an interview to OneWorld South Asia, said that replacing bricks by bamboo for constructing houses could help in curbing carbon emissions. Excerpts from the interview.

A K Bhattacharya

OneWorld South Asia: How can replacing bricks with bamboo for house construction help in curbing carbon emissions?

A K Bhattacharya: Bamboo creates a win-win situation. It is relevant to many environmental issues as well as economic issues. So, when we talk of resilience, when we talk of climate change, it is directly linked to the rural economy and other rural issues.

Bamboo finds its uses from the from poor man’s timber to rich men’s luxury. Bamboo based entrepreneurship could take us a step forward in our fight against climate change and rural poverty.

Even for government housing schemes like the Indira Awas Yojana, Anganwadi Yojana, I think bamboo can be an amazing species. The use of bamboo in construction of houses can also help in reducing energy consumption.

Bamboo could also be a solution to climate change and is an apt example of ‘think globally, act locally’. It is one of the most environment friendly species, as it produces 35% more oxygen compared to other species. A hectare of bamboo forest sequesters 62 tons of carbon dioxide per year, while a young wood forest sequesters only 15 tons per year.

OWSA: How can bamboo, which is said to be having around 2000 beneficial uses for mankind, lead us to sustainable life?

Bhattacharya: Bamboo can be used anywhere and everywhere. It finds its usage in various sectors like food, handicrafts, technology, energy and many more. It has got more colour than any other species.

Be it China or India, the rural women are taking part in bamboo based economy and are benefitting a lot. I can share an example of how 5000 women involved in the making of incense sticks have transformed into a company. Bamboo can be an icon for sustainable development.

We have already devised bamboo dustbins and toilets built with bamboo for rural areas, which are comparatively quite economical. The rural people are familiar with bamboo and its uses. They can use the available local knowledge, local materials and local technology for maximising benefits from bamboo.

Similarly, it can be used for making jewellery, scrubbers, table mats, flower vases, mobile wallets and many such items.

OWSA: What kind of role can bamboo play in soil and water conservation?

Bhattacharya: Water purification system is vegetative. It is the best species for soil and water conservation as it has an important role in riparian management and water filtration.

OWSA: How do you think bamboo expo mart can bring the message on bamboo closer to people?

Bhattacharya: This is a platform for artisans to showcase their products and also to discuss allied issues. So, it provides a platform to craftsmen, entrepreneurs, machinery makers, scientists and researchers.

There are people who are working on bamboo engineering from institutes like IIT-Delhi. Therefore, the event gives a larger platform to all stakeholders, especially for the rural people who can sell their products in the capital.

We are also trying to explore online marketing. We have invited online commercial shops like the e-bay and Flipkart, so that they can directly interact with the artisans. Marketing is one of the grey areas for the rural artisans and their exposure to e-shops will help them in directly selling their products to the people in London.

OWSA: You organize some activities for children with the focus on bamboo. How can children highlight its importance in our lives?

Bhattacharya: I consider children as a future custodian of this natural resource. I am tempted to turn the slogan from catch them young for environmenttocatch them young for bamboo’. If they know more about bamboo, they might use more bamboo, and will spread the knowledge of bamboo all over.

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