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This Sustainable Material Has the Potential to Cure Issues of Climate Change From a poor man's timber bamboo has now become the rich man's timber and the value global bamboo market has touched $ USD 68.8 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.0% from 2019 to 2025

By SMS Bordoloi

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Global goals or sustainable goals are a universal call for action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There is no issue more pressing as climate change all over the world today. It is being discussed in-depth at apex global forums and countries all over. Some nations, especially in Europe, have already started drastic action for climate change mitigation. Germany, for instance, has already decided to shut down all coal fed power plants.

Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden, has already drawn headlines in the global media with her innovative campaign on climate change. All nations are attempting to combat this from a micro to a macro level. Towards this cause, bamboo has been identified as strategic resources for countries to address the adverse effects of climate change. Bamboo also has all the potentials to contribute towards achieving sustainable development goals, especially for countries like India, being the second-highest bamboo growing country in the world.

Bamboo for Livelihood:

Bamboo has been a major source of livelihood for the poor people for centuries for which bamboo was always referred to as a poor man's timber. Bamboo gave them food, bamboo gave then shelter and they earned a livelihood by selling utility products made of bamboo. Bamboo has still been a major source of livelihood for rural people of the bamboo growing states in India. However, from a poor man's timber bamboo has now become the rich man's timber and the value global bamboo market has touched $ USD 68.8 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.0% from 2019 to 2025. India, especially northeast India, if harnesses the full potentials of bamboo could certainly open up new vistas for the economy.

Bamboo for Protecting the Planet:

So far as protection of the planet is concerned, bamboo has the potential to provide us the much needed solutions. Bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than other plants to the environment and bamboo sequester 20% carbon dioxide from the environment. Scientific plantation of bamboo could dramatically improve air quality with the release of more oxygen and sequestering more carbon dioxide. Sudden unprecedented floods have been a major cause of concern everywhere in the world. But in India, soil erosion during floods, especially along the river banks, has been a sort of a menace. Acres and acres of land get washed away during floods; Bamboo could be used for erosion control as well as to improve the quality of soil. Bamboo has already proved to be highly effective in soil erosion control in many countries. Bamboo being a versatile material could help us reduce our dependence on hardwood and plastic in a much bigger way and thereby help save the trees and eradicate plastic from our living space.

Bamboo for Building a Robust Green Economy:

Bamboo is a highly renewable grass yet stronger than steel in terms of tensile strength. A bamboo tree matures in 4 to 5 years whereas a hardwood tree takes almost 60 years to mature. Unlike hardwood trees, bamboo can be harvested without adverse effect on the environment. A bamboo revolution of sorts has already swept almost all the continents of the world over. However, India, despite being the second highest bamboo growing country in the world, has not made much headway in harnessing the potentials of bamboo, let alone capturing a sizeable market share in the global market.

Bamboo is fast proving to be superior alternative to wood and plastic for many uses. Bamboo as an ideal construction material has been gaining traction. Bamboo flooring has been well accepted in the global market. Bamboo fabric apparels and clothing are fast gaining popularity, especially due to its intrinsic characteristics such naturally organic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, ultra soft, super-absorbent and thermostatic.

Bamboo cosmetic brands have entered the premium segments of markets in various countries. Bamboo beverage brands are being launched in various parts of the world. Bamboo has also occupied a place in Lexus car's dashboard and steering wheels. Many car manufacturers are considering bamboo as an ideal alternative for car interiors.

Though, China, Indonesia and Vietnam have been known as major players in the bamboo sector, a few Japanese companies have actually made major inroads in to super premium segments of the market with superior quality products. One Japanese company has been manufacturing steering wheels for Lexus cars and another company already has a presence in 15 European countries with their bamboo furniture brand stores. Over 1000 products are made from bamboo besides traditional products like handicrafts and utility products. In fact, from the first leaf to the roots of bamboo, every section of a bamboo can be used to manufacture different products.

Why is India Lagging Behind?

Despite being the second highest bamboo growing country in the world, India has lagged behind in harnessing the full potential of its bamboo resources, primarily due to lack of serious research to develop indigenous technology. The bamboo species which are available in India are unique to India and require unique technology to harness the potential. We could probably manufacture far more superior products than any country, if we had superior technology developed for our bamboo species.

India's Northeast has been endowed abundant bamboo resources, sufficient enough to build a robust economy as well as to contribute towards climate change mitigation. However, India can certainly boast that Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. is setting up a bio-fuel refinery in Assam which will produce ethanol from bamboo. The Assam government seems to have woken up to the call and revamped its state bamboo mission recently. The Tripura Government has certainly been doing good work on bamboo sector consistently for several years. That said, a lot of work still needs to be done to use and promote bamboo as an alternative to wood.


Founder & CEO

Ivantage Craft Private Limited


SMS Bordoloi

Founder & CEO Ivantage Craft Private Limited

Bordoloi is a climate-conscious entrepreneur, dreamer, thinker, writer, and social worker.
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