The government has worked out a plan to combat climate change and desertification, and create a sustainable source of income for around five lakh tribals through bamboo cultivation.
The Tribal Affairs Ministry will also share the plan at the ongoing Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) on September 13.
Pravir Krishna, chairman of Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India, which comes under the ministry, said they will set up 100 Van Dhan centres in the northeast states as well as Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha to make bamboo products and market them.
"The government will provide financial help to these centres, which will employ three lakh to five lakh tribals. We expect these units to come up by October 31," Krishna said.
Explaining the role of bamboo in mitigating climate change and fighting desertification, he said it has a higher carbon sequestration potential compared to other trees and can help restore fertility of degraded land.
Sequestration is a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form.
"Compared to other trees, bamboo can capture more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. It's a fast-growing grass, can be harvested regularly and used for making a number of products such as matchsticks, textile, furniture, scaffolding, artifacts, etc," Krishna said.
"At present, China uses 90 per cent of a bamboo plant. We use only 20 per cent, and that's why bamboo products are expensive in India and its market is dead. We need to revive it. A study commissioned by TRIFED says we will miss the bus if we do not take necessary steps," he said.
Kishna said bamboo-based products act as a sustainable, low-carbon alternative to timber, PVC, aluminium and concrete.
Faiyaz Khudsar, an ecologist, said the use of bamboo for charcoal production will help put a check on felling of trees.
"Bamboo can grow on 'problem soil', where other trees cannot, and checks soil erosion. It can help restore large swathes of degraded land.
"It improves soil health too. The round-the-year leaf fall is a perennial source of nutrient. One hectare of bamboo produces 5-7 tonnes leaf litre per year," he said.
India has set a target of restoring 26 million hectare of degraded land by 2030.
Under the Van Dhan scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April last year, the government plans to set up 60,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendra for providing skill upgradation and capacity building training of tribals. These units include primary processing and value addition facility.
Each Van Dhan centre involves 15 self-help groups, each including 20 tribal gatherers.
First 600 Van Dhan centres, including those for bamboo products, are expected to be sanctioned by September 15.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)