Nagaland: Blessed with Abundant Resources of Bamboo

NeW Bureau

Bamboo is found extensively all over Nagaland. The State is blessed with abundant resources of bamboo coupled with suitable agro climatic conditions for propagation of bamboo at large scale. Of all the bio-resources bamboo is one of the most important resources as it has been a part and partial of the social, economic structure and a source of livelihood for the Nagas from time immemorial

Nagaland with an estimated 5% of the National bamboo growing stock offers untapped opportunity for exploiting the available resource and garnering of economic benefits if pursued with a holistic planning and effective implementation of the plan. Out of 136 species of bamboo in the country, 46 species are found that spread all over the State. The predominant species are Dendrocalamus hamitonii, Teinostachyum dulloa, Bambusa tulda, Bambusa bamboo and Melocana Bamboo Soides. They occur almost all along the lower belts in continuous strips of some length descending down to plains along the border with Assam. Daloo clumps are characterized in moist localities along the nalas and streams, Jati occupies better-drained sites. In more accessible localities along the roads, bamboos have been over cut while, in other areas they have been left untouched for many years.

The utility of bamboo resource for the Nagas is indispensable. The Naga people have survived through the centuries with the diverse and varied uses of bamboo and its products. From the cutting of the umbilical cord to the mats that have wrapped the dead for burial, Bamboo has been integral to the life of the Nagas. It is used as construction materials in many ways. It continues to play a predominant role in the life of the people even today in every walk of life that ranges from agricultural tools and implements to shelter, food, and livelihood.

Bamboos have retained their popularity and utility even today, despite being an ancient traditional art. Residents of Nagaland utilize bamboo for a variety of purposes which include household items for daily use, construction and multiple other products. There are no professional bamboos weavers in Nagaland as every common man is naturally are expert basket maker that are capable of creating his own bamboo merchandise. Baskets are usually of two kinds, one to be kept in the house for storage purposes and the other to be carried on the back for day-to-day use. Baskets of very fine designs are in wide range with different shapes and sizes, used for different purposes, such as containers for crops and other house-hold goods and packages for carrying luggages and merchandise. There are other kinds of baskets bearing symbolic expression and having numerous engravings. Most Naga men know how to weave mats of split bamboo, which is the chief material besides wood for constructing walls and floors of houses and very important is the production of finely woven mats for drying paddy.

Apart from baskets, the Nagas make bamboo combs, naga belt, fish traps and fish baskets, decorative ceremonial hatgears bamboo dish, saucers, spoons, mugs, hayfork for shifting grass and hay, bamboo shield painted with traditional designs, cross-bow, a powerful weapon made of bamboo, wood, fibre and bone and different kinds of hats and musical instruments like bamboo flute, trumpet, mouth organ, cup violin etc.They make attractive chungas or drinking cups; mugs made of bamboo with poker work. They are sometimes designed with painted stylized floral patterns or with human figures done in relief, greatly enhancing the shape and the texture of the articles. In Nagaland, the bamboo pipe is popular.

The state of Nagaland produces a huge amount of bamboo and artisans therein make good use of these available resources to craft out amazing artifacts. Bamboo crafting makes an integral part of Naga culture and their specialty lies in making beautiful furniture pieces out of bamboo. So, these artisans would make awesome tables, chairs, sofas and cots out of bamboo.

Nagaland is one of the states in the North East India that have a policy for the promotion and development of Bamboo Industry as a resource as well as an enterprise. With a bold objective to harness the potential of bamboo and its benefits, the State announced its Bamboo Policy on 15th March 2004 and with it the Nagaland BambooDevelopment Agency (NDBA) was established to undertake programmes and activities of bamboo with the objective to foster in ecological security and economic growth through development and utilization of the bamboo resources. The Agency have undertaken and promoted various activities that have impacted the lives of thousands around the State. With further assistance from the Government and active involvement from the masses, the bamboo industry as a whole has a bright future in the State.

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