Dr. Banarsi Lal
Reasi is a hilly district of Jammu and Kashmir which is located around 80 km away from Jammu and is at 1528 meter above mean sea level. As per 2011 Census, the population of this district is 3, 14,714. It was carved from Udhampur district on 1st April, 2007.
This district is surrounded by Udhampur, Rajouri, Jammu, Ramban and Shopian districts. This district of Jammu and Kashmir is very famous because it is an abode of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine and millions of devotees visit this holy shrine every year.
The Chenab River passes through this district which is another centre of attraction in the district. Reasi district has an immense scope in bamboo cultivation and there are certain areas in Reasi district where bamboo is grown commercially.Most of the farmers of Reasi district are small and marginal and crops are mostly cultivated under rain fed (about 94%) conditions. Major crops grown in this district are maize, wheat, paddy, mash and potato. Farmers of this district are having very limited resources and majority of them have small size of land holding. The yield of the crops is also low as compared to the national yields. The adoption percentage of modern agricultural technologies is slow. Boars and monkeys menace is another big problem for the farmers. They damage the crops causing a huge loss to the farmers of the district. Agroforestry has an immense potential in the district as large part of the district comes under forests. If grown scientifically, bamboo can play the pivotal role in enhancing the income and employment among the farmers of the district.
Bamboo is an important plant gifted by nature in tropical and subtropical areas. It is also called as wonder plant, green gold, emperor of all grasses, wood of the poor etc. It is used by the people in their every-day utilities. It is closely interwoven with the life of the people in several ways. It can be used as a food, fodder, construction material, paper, mats, musical instruments etc. Bamboo has multiple economical, ecological and social values. It has manifold uses from cradle to coffin.
It has many uses as a substitute for fast depleting wood and as an alternative to more expensive materials. It can be used in paper industry, to make small footbridges, water pumps, irrigation pipes etc. In rural areas it can be used as fodder, in making brooms, food, buckets etc. Nutrient analysis of edible bamboos indicated that it contains 77% to 84% moisture, 4% to 7% protein, 5% carbohydrates, 12-13 mg/100G vitamin C and Na, K, Ca, Mg and P as minerals. Bamboo has the potential for checking soil erosion, fast vegetative growth cover to deformed areas and road embankment stabilization. Bamboo tensile strength is 28000 per square inch versus 23000 for steel.
It can be used for making pillars, roofs, ceiling, walls etc. It can be used to make medicines to treat asthma, cough and fever etc. It is also used to make certain structures in earthquake prone areas, in music and arts. Bamboo cultivation has an immense potential in J&K. Its cultivation and processing can strengthen the economy of J&K and some new employment and income avenues can be created especially for the rural youths in the region. There is need to popularize bamboo cultivation particularly in the wastelands of J&K. Bamboo production is a highly commercial industry and its cultivation reduces the soil erosion.
Chapanoo village is about 40 km away from world famous religious place Katra in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. The village is about 10 km. away from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Reasi and farmers of this village regularly seek technical guidelines from KVK, Reasi. This village is situated in the remote area of Reasi district and is lacking the road and communication connectivity.
There are about 350 families in the village. The major occupation of the people is agriculture and the village is known for the commercial cultivation of bamboo. Most of the farmers of the village do the commercial cultivation of bamboo. There are three Govt. primary schools, two Angadwadi centres and one Community Hall in the village. The village is having around 250 hectares of land. There is no source of irrigation in the village and the village is 100% rain fed. Monkey menace is also an emerging problem in the village.
There are about 250 progressive bamboo growers in the village who are producing the bamboo at a commercial level. The village is known for quality bamboo. They have made furnaces in the village where the bamboos are moulded according to their use. The bamboos of this village are very strong and are used for the building purpose, baskets, stairs, nets, for flags etc. The farmers’ sale their produce in local market, Jammu and even in Kashmir province at the rate of Rs.100-120/ bamboo.
Generally the farmers of this village fetch more money by selling their bamboos but during COVID-19 pandemic their market was influenced. Farmers also grow maize, wheat and few local varieties of vegetables as their forefathers were doing. Monkeys and wild boars are the great threats in their fields. Most of the agricultural produce is consumed by their families with very little surplus to sell. So bamboo is the main livelihood source of the farmers of this village. The technical guidelines on scientific bamboo cultivation are provided by the KVK, Reasi. With the generation of extra income, the farmers developed confidence to mitigate their basic problems. A self- reliance and entrepreneurial spirit has been developed among the farmers of this village.
Chapanoo farmers’ success in commercial bamboo cultivation is inspiring the other farmers of the area and they are also shifting towards the commercial bamboo for better economic returns. Gradually many farmers of the area are becoming interested in commercial bamboo cultivation. Bamboo cultivation helped to overcome the problem of monkeys menace in the village as bamboo crop is not damaged by the monkeys. According to a local farmers, Sh.Payar Hussain and Sh.Mohd.Salim our village is known for bamboo production and quality bamboo is being produced by our village farmers.
Special training programmes on value addition in bamboo were also conducted for the inhabitants of the village. Many women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and rural youths took part in these training programmes. District Administration, Reasi, KVK, Reasi, Dept. of Handicrafts and JKRLM are making strenuous efforts to make this innovative venture as an enterprise for the farmers of the district. Some youths of the village have started bamboo processing in the village which is creating income and employment among them in the village. They are making different types of bamboo products and selling them in local market and even in Jammu.
They also demonstrate their products in the Kisan Melas and other events organised by the different organisations. By observing the successful results of bamboo farmers many new farmers are showing keen interest on the capacity building for bamboo processing. According to the bamboo grower, Sh.Mohd.Salim of the village, “We commercially grow bamboo but if some industries on bamboos processing are made in the village then whole scenario of the area can be changed. New avenues for more income and employment can be generated in the area.”
Many farmers grow bamboos in and around their farmlands to increase their farm income. The development of artisan skills for handicrafts and wider utility of bamboo can provide more employment opportunities and better income distribution for the people of this village.
There is a dire need to aware the bamboo growers about the latest information on introduction, phenology, reproductive biology, propagation, exchange of germplasm, conservation status etc. Value addition in bamboo can open up new avenues of employment in the area. There is also a need for the introduction of other species of bamboo of ethno biological significance.
It has been observed that most of the bamboo growers are lacking up-to-date information on ecological and growth parameters, morphological variability’s, conservation value, methods for multiplication etc. GIS based information system can be developed for the protected areas. Bamboo processing units can raise the socioeconomic status of the farmers of this area. Ethno biological approach can be adopted towards the cultivation, preservation of rare and threatened species of bamboo in this village. There is need of systematic research studies, range of distribution, flowering periodicity, ethno biological utilization, phenology, floristic compositions, introduction in production forests and homelands of rural areas. Inter-institutional support both at regional and inter-regional levels and interaction may help in developing, improving and managing the bamboo cultivation in this village.
The writer is: Dr. Banarsi Lal, Sr. Scientist & Head, KVK, Reasi, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu, (SKUAST-J).