Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bamboo and Sustainable Development

Annually, the world trade of bamboo is estimated to be 14 billion dollars and India has the largest bamboo reserve after China. In India, it has been in use as a raw material for housing and the production of a wide range of products. But in the last few years, designers as well as manufacturers have embraced it as one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly materials available in the market. According to few companies, bamboo also consists of anti-bacterial properties that can help stay warm in cold weather and cold in hot weather. There is no doubt that bamboo enjoys several green credentials but how does it contribute to sustainable development? The answer lies with a social enterprise named Bamboo House India that has been using this green material to provide sustainable livelihood to tribal artisans for years.

Bamboo House India was started in 2007 by entrepreneurs Prashant Lingam and Aruna Kappagantula with the aim of linking tribal artisans of Katlamara (village in Tripura, India) to the mainstream market. Even though India is one of the largest producers of bamboo, majority of bamboo furniture sold in the country comes from China. Thyrostachys oliveri, one of the best species of bamboo in the world is produced in Katlamara. This specie is considered the ideal material for creating bamboo furniture, handicraft and structure for rural homes. Even then, this bamboo specie as well as artisans is dying due to the failure of government laws.

Bamboo House India has focused on the commercial aspect of bamboo, trying to market the products made by these artisans and giving them a fair price for their produce. This social enterprise has been working on the demand and supply aspects to ensure sustainable livelihood, keeping all limitations in mind. It has been estimated that more than 5 million tribals can come above the poverty line with the help of bamboo cultivation and it can also prove effective in regeneration of the environment.

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