Mizoram : Bamboo Represents a Vast Untapped Major Resource

NeW Bureau

Bamboo forests cover a large extent of area in Mizoram. Around 57% of the geographical area of Mizoram is under Bamboo cover. It has an abundant reserve of bamboo forest contributing 14% of the all India bamboo distribution. Both the Clump forming and non-Clump forming bamboos are available in most parts of Mizoram except in the higher altitudes of the eastern part of Mizoram. There are more than twenty species of bamboos in Mizoram of which Melocanna baccifera is the dominant forest resource of the State. Non-clump forming bamboo Melocanna baccifera (Mautak) is abundantly found contributing about 95% of the bamboo afforested land in the State, while other important species are Dendrocalamus hamiltonii (Phulrua), Dendrocalamus longispathus (Rawnal), D. species (Rawpui), Bambusa tulda (Rawthing), B.longispiculata (Rawthing chi) and Arundinaria callosa (Phar) that are found in small proportion, yet are commercially important for value added products. Analysis of forest area according to bamboo density shows that pure bamboo brakes are found in less than 1% of the country. They are found most commonly in Mizoram.

Mizoram has an abundant supply of the raw materials for bamboo crafts. Since the State is the land of a number of craftsmen and skilled artisans excelling in various crafts bamboo related crafts are a major source of income to the state as well as the people. Bamboos have their multifarious uses in turning out various commercial crafts and items of furniture. Even their houses are generally built with bamboo walls and floors and thatched roofs. Bamboo baskets are an important product that the artisans of Mizoram commonly craft out of Bamboo. These baskets come in various sizes, shapes and serve various purposes. Broad baskets, for instance, are used for storing vegetables, cotton, and firewood. Baskets with lid are used for storing grains. The various other products made from bamboo in Mizoram include pipes, toys, hats, umbrella handle, fish baskets, mugs, weaving tools and even houses. The traditional Mizo hat is known for its workmanship. It looks as if the hat is woven out of fine bamboo as fine as cotton yarn. Besides their typical hat or caps, domestic baskets are all made from plaited bamboo and these are reinforced by stout cane, which is very hard and durable. A typical Mizo basket is broad at the rim and tapers at the bottom.

Traditional ornaments too use bamboo in it. During festivals, Mizo women use a headgear of a bamboo band with parrot feathers stuck in it, the ends of which are decorated with beetles. Other bamboo products include fish and animal traps, rain bamboo hat seen with the formation of a flat thin layer on its top, japis, cones, circular boxes and other materials serving as reservoirs and containers of goods, crops and other things. Therefore, a variety of them is catered to the village craftsmen on regular or irregular basis.

The people of the area are involved in the bamboo related activity since time immemorial. Earlier it was confined to only household level. Later on some big players came up with heavy investment in their units even though the household activities of works continued. The activity got further impetus after the thrust provided by the policy decisions of Govt. to introduce Mizoram Bamboo Policy, 2002, a society with an objective to encourage, start, organize, carry on, assist, lease, develop and regulate resources, plantation, utilization, research and development of bamboo

Bamboo is an essential component of forest eco- system, which is a dominant feature of state’s landscape. Traditional living and lifestyle of Mizo society, to a large extent, is dependent on bamboo for its variety of uses and bamboo has much to offer by way of contributing to socio-economic advancement of modern Mizo society. The eco-friendly Bamboo crop has immense potential in improving rural economy, industrial development and a sound economic base for the state on sustained basis. Bamboo represents a vast untapped major resource of Mizoram State whose full ecological and economic potentials remain underutilized; it needs to be recognized, developed and promoted in a manner ensuring ecological security for all round sustainable development of the State and well- being of its people.

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