Commercial cultivation of bamboo yet to take off in Radhi

Resources: When villagers of Radhi first started planting bamboo to fight land degradation about seven years ago, no one had the slightest idea of the income it would generate in the years to come.

Today, almost every household cultivates bamboo in their back yards and fields. It all started in 2006 through the agriculture ministry’s sustainable land management project, which initiated the plantation.

A bamboo pole costs Nu 100 while its rhizome fetches about Nu 75 in the market. However, villagers are yet to start commercial cultivation of bamboo in the gewog.

Radhi gup, Jigmi Namgyal said villagers are not willing to form groups to start commercial plantation.

“Most people don’t understand the benefits of forming a group to start bamboo plantation. People are happy growing and selling bamboo independently,” he said. “The gewog doesn’t have any plans to start mass plantation either.”

Pema Dorji, a villager, said commercial cultivation of bamboo would first require a stable market, which he said was still a challenge for them.

“There isn’t a stable market for bamboos in Trashigang. More over, there are not many construction activities happening in Rangjung and Trashigang town at present,” he said. “In fact, we are happy with whatever we can earn from bamboo.”

Dekiling tshogpa, Ngawang Tshering, said the income from the sale of bamboo has dropped in the past 18 months.

Although he would earn at least Nu 10,000 yearly from the sale of bamboo, he was not able to sell a single bamboo pole, last year.

“A couple of years back, we would make good income even when the price stood at Nu 75 for a pole. The price has escalated today but the income has also dwindled,” he said.

With more and more villagers growing bamboo and demand dwindling, he said not many were able to earn much in the last two years.

“We don’t see too many contractors looking for bamboo these days. When the demand is fluctuating, it may not be wise to go for mass plantation,” he added.

On the other hand, Radhi mangmi, Pema Wangchuk said that although the sale of bamboo had slightly dropped, the benefits of growing bamboo should not be ignored.

“Today, we don’t have to procure barb wires for fencing works and the issue of land degradation has improved a lot,” he said. “The income from bamboo is complimentary. The demand for bamboo is bound to pick up when constructions begin with time,” he said.

Meanwhile, last year, a group was formed to take up bamboo development, sugarcane, napier grass and tree plantations in over seven acres of a landslide prone area.

Jigmi Namgyal said the group has planted about 400 bamboos and some 2,000 trees among other plantations. After the land becomes stable in another two to three years, the group will start commercial cultivation.

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang

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