MoEF’s March 2011 direction to treat bamboo as a ‘Minor Forest Produce’ - had it gone astray?

The 21st March 2011 letter of the Union Minister for Environment & Forests requested Chief Ministers to direct State Forest Departments to treat bamboo as a Minor Forest Produce and to respect the right accrued to communities as per the Scheduled Tribes and other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). Bamboo has always been treated as a ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP)’ in forestry. The term ‘Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP)’ in place of MFP was coined much later in recognition to the growing appreciation of importance and value of these forest products.

Bamboo no MIRACLE CROP. Its good but serious business

I attended a presentation by Dr. Victor Brias, Executive Member, World Bamboo Organisation in a seminar at Kohima on 17th Sept. An indicative summary follows for those who care.

Lifting Restriction on Transit of Bamboo under Forest Act in NE States

Sep 16 2010

By Achintya Kumar Sinha, IFS (Retd.)

Availability of technology for new generation value-added products from bamboo with a thriving export market has put this tall grass in the center-stage of the imminent industrial growth in the North East (NE), home to 66% of the growing stock of bamboo in India. Economic growth based on bamboo would suit the social and cultural milieu and would be a prudent option for the ecologically fragile North East.

Economic emancipation of NE would be bamboo based, but … … …

New technology for high-end industrial products from bamboo has put this tall grass in the center-stage for economic development in the North East -- but for a little irritant.
One has to contend with transit restrictions under the Forest Act even for bamboo grown on farmlands. Official confirmation of private land as the source of any consignment is a long-drawn-out process to say the least and often awfully frustrating. China, Japan and Malaysia dominate the global trade in industrial bamboo products, and this way we would be nowhere.
There is space to enhance productivity with higher returns to bamboo farmers. Market forces should eventually ensure its intensive management with rise in its demand as well as price as an industrial raw material, provided transit restriction stops playing the damper.

Lifting transit restriction on bamboo is a must to stimulate growth in the sector and for enthusiastic sustained participation of farmers, traders and industries. Let us change rather than violate the law. But it is easier said then done.

So, how do we address this malady, if you too judge this to be so?