He has been doing this on four hectares of land since the past three years and now earns annually at least 2.5 lakh, which he thinks is enough for taking care of his four-member family besides sending his kids to schools.

"We eat bamboo shoots, which is like our staple food. We make our huts with bamboos and thatch the roofs of our huts with bamboo leaves, we make fencing with it and it is also used in our pujas and marriages," Debbarma says.

Considering the growing demand for bamboo shoots as an Asian delicacy in starred hotels, the Tripura government is planning to commercially produce the vegetable.

Debbarma initially cultivated rubber, but turned to bamboo cultivation as price of rubber latex dropped from Rs 160 to Rs 90 per kg.
He says he earns by selling ripe bamboos and also gets good price for selling bamboo shoots.
He is not alone, about 50 tribals in the block are now taking to bamboo cultivation."We got all help from Tripura Bamboo Mission, which fenced our cultivable area, supplied good and high yielding varieties of plant saplings, manures and technical know how and also gave us wages initially for working in our own fields.

Giving wage was basically to encourage and encourage farmers into bamboo cultivation," Debbarma says.

TBM is an initiative of the state government to develop the bamboo sector in a holistic manner. The mission aims to double livelihood involvement and the sector turnover in a span of three years.

It also aims to optimise the end-to-end value chain spanning from plantation and resource generation to marketing of value added finished products.The mission has a sub-sector specific focus that includes handicrafts, furniture, incense, sticks and blinds, mat and industrial application of bamboo.

The state government had initially selected an area of 60 hectares at Belbari in West Tripura district to cultivate a special variety of bamboo for commercial exploitation.
"The State Bamboo Mission is giving all-out help to the project," says BDO of Jirania block in which the area falls, Argha Saha said.

According to Indraneel Bhaumik, Associate Professor of Economics in Tripura University, Tripura is one of the best bamboo producing states in the country.
"If planned and scientific cultivation is started, it would bring a balance to the demand and supply of bamboo and open a new opportunity of import of shoots," he says.

The mission has decided to cultivate a species found in Thailand – Gendu Calamus – which makes palatable dishes, Saha says. Sources in the mission said it had already made a test field of cultivating bamboo shoots at Peratia in Gomati district which emerged as a successful model that would be practiced at Belbari.

Programme manager of Bamboo Mission, Ramnarayan Pande, said self-help groups would be engaged in producing the plants and all technical and monetary helps rendered to them.

A traditional forest vegetable in China for more than 2,500 years, bamboo shoots are not only delicious, but also rich in nutrients, and rank among the five most popular healthcare foods in the world.

In Japan, bamboo shoot is known as the king of forest vegetables. Modern research finds that the bamboo shoot has a number of medicinal benefits, from cancer prevention and weight loss to improving appetite and digestion. It is also low in sugar and therefore can be used for treating hypertension, hyperlipemia and hyperglycemia.

Bamboo grows all across Tripura covering over 10 to 15 different species. Last year, 2.32 lakh MT of bamboo were grown in the state and the figure is almost the same this year.


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