Bamboo cultivation is catching up in Karnataka

By TheHindu on 24 Jun 2017 | read

The withering of bamboo clumps after the flowering cycle in bamboo has given rise to many apprehensions. It has aided forest fires that destroyed large expanse of forests in the Nagarahole and certain other wildlife sanctuaries this year in the State.

Efforts are being made by the Forest Department to regenerate bamboo in the forests even as rhizomes are sprouting naturally.

Keeping in view the ecological and economical importance of bamboo, the Forest Department has initiated the process of dibbling bamboo thickets to sow seeds in a bid to grow bamboo in the forests. Bamboo flowers and withers once in approximately 45 years. Flowering had resulted in the drying up of bamboo clumps in the forests, depriving elephants of their food as well. Bamboo flowering was noticed in the Bhadra sanctuary first and later, it spread southwards, a source in the department told The Hindu .

Thanks to the recent rainfall, bamboo rhizomes in forests were found growing. The Forest Department had not removed dried bamboo since they were not allowed as per the order of a court, the source disclosed.

The absence of green bamboo in the forests, to some extent, could have pushed the elephants into the crop areas, admits Ajay Mishra, Field Director, Project Elephant.

He, however, said that the recent spell of rain had accounted for considerable regeneration of green grass as also leaf fodder in the forests for all herbivores.

Bamboo cultivation in the State is being taken up in a big way, thanks to the initiative of the National Bamboo Mission (NBM).

The goal of the NBM is to popularise bamboo cultivation, mainly on private land in the State. Bamboo cultivation had been taken up on 180 hectares of private lands in the growing regions of the State since then, according to NBM officials, who disclosed this at the “Bidiru Mela” here recently.

N.M. Poonacha, who is in-charge of the bamboo propagation at the Agriculture Research Station College of Forestry, Ponnampet in Kodagu, says that only about 70 per cent of Burma bamboo ( Dendrocalamus brandisii ) had flowered in the Kodagu region and that it would wither away. The other variety, Bambusa bamboos, had flowered fully.

Farmers had bought more than 20,000 plants raised at the Forestry College for planting on their land and it was a positive sign.

He advocates the popularisation of bamboo in the State citing the example of China where bamboo had become a major economic factor in areas close to the Shanghai region. The Forestry College supplies bamboo plants to States such as Maharashtra, Kerala and Andra Pradesh, he said.

Though the college does not manufacture seeds, it had arranged about five kg of Burma bamboo seeds to a prominent political personality from Mizoram recently. Bamboo cultivation should be linked at several points involving universities that conduct research, growers, marketing and industry as in China, Mr. Poonacha says.

Bamboo is grown in an area of 3.60 lakh hectares in the State. There were over one lakh members of the Medar community dependent on bamboo for manufacturing various types of products and they required more than 40 lakh bamboo poles a year. The Union Government had spent Rs. 12 crore in the last three years to encourage cultivation of bamboo in the country, a NBM official stated at the “Bidiru Mela”.

In Karnataka, bamboo cultivation is found in the districts of Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Belgaum, Chikmaglur, Kodagu, Hassan. Bamboo is being touted as a product that can even generate electricity, apart from its multifarious utilities.

Cultivation being encouraged despite bamboo flowering

Flowering was first noticed in the Bhadra sanctuary