Meghalaya is richly endowed with the bamboo forests. Bamboo forests in the state have diverse species base which include clump forming as well as non-clump forming types. It has been reported that 36 species of bamboo from 14 genera are found in Meghalaya ( Biswas, 1988). The important clump forming species include Dendrocalamus strictus, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Bambusa arundinacea, Bambusa pallida, Bambusa tulda, whereas Melocanna bambusoides is the important non-clump forming species.
There are a number of crafts found in Meghalaya and the significant ones are cane and bamboo work, artistic weaving and wood carving. However, difficulties are many. The extraction of bamboos from the Garo Hills is a very difficult one that a man with a good experience of the work would be necessary. Transportation poses as a hindrance too. The most important of all difficulties is the necessary capital required to undertake the work.
Bamboo grows wild and some are specially grown. Its abundance and multiple uses have led bamboo to play a pivotal role in the socio-economic and cultural life of the tribal people of the state. It finds varied uses like construction material, in making of diverse implements for agriculture, fishing and cattle rearing and the simple household items like utensils small furniture etc. Livelihood of significant population in the state is dependent on the handicrafts made of bamboo.
Meghalaya bamboo crafts is a crucial part of the daily lifestyle of Meghalaya. The artisans attend to the craft when free from agriculture. The Khasis are known for creating attractive cane baskets and sieves. The Garos are also rich in the various forms of bamboo culture. Garo Hills are rich in bamboo and cane. Crafts such as baskets (locally known as khok or thugis) are popular. Artistic baskets known as meghum khoks are made in the Garo Hills, to store valuable items including clothes, bamboo houses, mats, stools, Kurup or special type of Khasi umbrella, winnowing tray, fans, shovel for mud and building materials, comb, smoking pipes are some of the major bamboo products produced in Meghalaya.
Bamboo forests of the state are largely under the control of Autonomous District Councils (ADC). These forests are subjected to very little or no scientific management. In the government controlled reserved and protected forests, which constitutes about 4.4% of the total geographical area, bamboo generally occurs as associate of tree species.
There are four bamboo based industrial units in the state viz Meghalaya Bamboo Chips Limited, Meghalaya Plywood Limited, Timpak Pvt Limited and M/S Roka Cane and Bamboo Works. Inventory of Bamboo resource for the entire state has not been undertaken so far by the State Forest Department. The only information about the extent of bamboo forests and growing stock is available from the Forest Survey of India’s report, which is based on the field survey carried out in 1987.