» Preamble

a. Bamboo has played an important part in the lives of the people of Assam, and has been an integral part of the cultural, social and economic traditions of the State. It is a renewable and versatile resource, and an important component of the wealth of Assam. It grows in the natural forests, and is cultivated in homesteads, groves and on private plantations. It is utilized in many ways, for housing, fencing, functional articles, agricultural implements, basketry, and even fuel and food. People possess traditional skills of working with the material, and knowledge of the cultivation and management of Bamboo. Rattan is also an important natural material for the state of Assam. Building on traditional patterns of usage, it has evolved to become the basis for many artisans and craft persons working on cane furniture and craft products for the market.
   
b. Bamboo is an essential component of forest ecosystem. In the hilly and mountainous areas as well as riverbanks elsewhere it protects the slopes from erosion as an effective soil binder. Bamboo forests are also home to many endangered wild life including a large number of birds. For the Wild Elephants, endangered Hoolock Gibbons, and some other fauna, it forms a major part of their diet.
   
c. In Assam, even today, by far the most important and visible uses of bamboo are at the household level, in every day lives of people. Bamboo is used extensively for house construction (walls, flooring, roofing, panels and partitions), fencing, agricultural and fishing implements, storage, basketry, household articles and other domestic applications and for economic activities such as cocoon rearing trays in sericulture. Some households also produce for the market - often as independent products for localized markets, making storage and carrying baskets, fishing traps agricultural implements, seed trays, mats and fencing material. Sometimes they function as subcontractors, on a piece rate basis. These activities are not normally carried out as a primary vocation, but supplement household income, especially in the lean season for agricultural activities.
   
d. In semi-urban areas, another development has taken place, in the form of the emergence of individual entrepreneurs, and clusters of cane and bamboo activity. Such groups of craftsperson and micro-entrepreneurs manufacture an array of products for adjacent and even distant markets. The product range builds on its functional origins, and incorporates decorative and non-traditional products­ranging from largely low value bamboo basketry to expensive cane furniture.
   
e. The overwhelming industrial use is however still for pulp and paper. The paper mills in the State have a capacity of 8,00,000 tonnes per annum, met largely from Assam, but to a lesser extent from the neighbouring States. Much of the bamboo utilized in these spheres comes from the forests through a system of contracts, leases and departmental operations.
   
f. Bamboo was extensively used in the construction industry as scaffolding, ladders and supports. This usage is declining, due to the increasing use of substitutes. Similarly, there is a perceptible decline in the use of bamboo for temporary structures in cities- in the tent house, market stall and low cost shelter categories. Bamboo is still, however, a widely used material for rural, low cost and traditional housing. It continues to be preferred because it is relatively cheap, easy to work with, and readily available.
   
g. The decline in the availability of timber and the emergence of new technologies and product options have spurred interest in the field of wood substitutes and composites. These include boards of diferent types- mat, corrugated, laminated, particle, wafer and chip. Some products provide promising linkages between the organized and unorganized sectors, between household activity and organized industry, for instance resin bonded boards made from hand woven mats. Edible bamboo shoots, processed for the market represent another promising area of economic activity.
   
h. In recent decades a number of factors have contributed to changing patterns of usage and demand for bamboo and rattan. The forests, traditional repositories of the resources, have come under the pressure of increasing population and encroachment, reduction in notified area, and degradation of biotic quality. Continued extraction of bamboo for pulp and paper to meet the demands of pulp and paper units outside the State, and the establishment of paper mills within the state has increased the industrial demand for bamboo. The reduction of forest cover and the degradation of its biotic quality have placed stresses, in particular, on cane (rattan) resources, which have substantially declined. At the same time, the emergence and growing popularity of synthetic materials- plastics and other engineered material has led to the decline of traditional craft and even skill. This has adversely impacted on the livelihoods of artisans and bamboo workers.
   
i. Despite this, Assam continues to be relatively well-endowed with resources of bamboo and cane, in particular of bamboo. With a wide range of forest types, the state's area continues to support over thirty species of bamboo, excluding exotics. Most of these species are commercially significant and through new perspectives on cultivation and management are capable of supporting the needs of industrial and value added applications.
   
j. Recent advances in technology and in product and application, development have brought about a growing realization that bamboo in particular can be the vehicle for value addition, incremental income and employment. It is a material that lends itself easily to simple processing technologies. At the same time it is capable of being used for high end and high value products and applications.
   
k. The state of Assam is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these advances, to utilize its extensive natural resources, and the legacy of skill and knowledge harboured by its people, to provide for vastly enhanced economic activity, and create opportunities for employment and income.
   
l. The 'Bamboo and Cane Policy' of the State of Assam is an important step in this direction.
   

» The Vision-Bamboo

Government of Assam will encourage, promote and support the development of the bamboo sector in a comprehensive manner, through a multidisciplinary multidepartmental and multi-dimensional integrated approach to provide economic benefits to the people of the State.

1. The objectives of the policy are to support, facilitate and catalyze:

a. Development and implementation of a sustainable community based production model for bamboo with concomitant benefits for forest conservation
   
b. Development and implementation of an economic development program using bamboo for spurring industrial development
   
c. Enhancing employment and income generating opportunities using bamboo and cane as the prime resource
   
d. Protection and preservation of ecosystem in the hilly areas, especially protection of slopes and riverbanks, and for sustained productivity. Conservation of biodiversity, as a large number of endangered species use bamboo forest as habitat and many take it as part of their diet. All varieties of native bamboo species shall be protected and germplasm preserved.

2. The thrust and application areas for the implementation of this vision will include

a. Manufacture of value added products and applications, such as wood and plywood substitutes, composite rnaterial, charcoal, activated carbon and energy
   
b. Housing and constructional applications involving the use of bamboo and bamboo composite material, in the field of low cost and mass housing and earthquake resistant construction
   
c. Processed edible bamboo shoot
   
d. Craft, and small enterprises
   
e. Resource development within and outside forest areas including regeneration and conservation
   
f. Capacity building in technical institutions, universities and colleges, to support the intensification and deepening of bamboo based activity
   
g. Skill upgradation and training
   
h. Dissemination of technical and sectoral knowledge and creation of awareness, about the potential afforded by bamboo and the related economic opportunities.
   
i. Market analysis and support

» The raw material front

The Government of Assam shall endeavour to enhance the availability and quality of bamboo, and provide a facilitating and enabling environment for the cultivation, extraction and movement of bamboo to industries, craft groups and other users.

1. The Government of Assam shall:

a. Review the access and regulatory regime for the cultivation, harvesting and movement of bamboo, including the system of transit permits, and the felling and extraction rules in forest areas, taking into account the fact that it is a grass and a renewable resource, and the need to develop and promote its usage, in particular for value added applications.
   
b. Take steps to improve the quality, productivity and out­turn of bamboo from forest areas through development of plant material capabilities, adoption of intensive management and input approaches, scientific management of forest based bamboo resources, systematic and block plantation of commercially significant species and improved harvesting and post harvest practices
   
c. Encourage non-Government and entrepreneur based plantation on private land, homesteads, and wasteland through provision of extension services, induction of quality plant material and Other forms of support
   
d. Promote the up gradation, acquisition and dissemination of knowledge and practices for the bamboo sector, through involvement of research institutions, universities and colleges, Government agencies, NGOs, communities, users, and link them with national/ international resource agencies and institutions
   
e. Take steps to update existing management practices based on end use and to down-stream the same to the communities
   
f. Establish Bambusetum at least at two locations in the State

2. The Government of Assam shall

a. Review the feasibility and desirability of declaring bamboo as a horticultural crop, to encourage the systematic plantation and management of bamboo resources.
   
b. Encourage and support the development of bamboo markets and the developmentof grading systems for raw bamboo.
   
c. Develop and encourage maturity making systems at the cultivator level.

» The Vision - Cane (Rattan)

The Government of Assam will promote and support the Cane (Rattan) sector through a programme of conservation and development of the rattan resources of the States, and through support to the craft and small enterprise users of cane (rattan).

1. The Government of Assam shall encourage value addition in cane (rattan) based handicrafts through improved processing, product diversification, design development and enhanced shelf life.
     
2. The Government of Assam shall:
     
  a. Establish at least two cane(rattan) plantations, to be managed under scientific practices, to enhance the availability of rattan for users over a period of time.
     
  b. Set up a system of gene pool conservation of rattan resources

» Bringing in Assam's strength- the community and the people

The role of the government in achieving the above objectives would be that of a facilitator and promoter of activities in each of the areas outlined in the approach. The strategic direction and thrust would be provided by the Government while the community and the private sector would be the implementors of the strategy.

1. Bamboo provides subsistance and livelihood security to communities and it is a part of the cultural, social and economic traditions of the State. A community based development approach would be adopted for the sector though active participation and involvement of communities under Joint Forest Management (JFM), under cluster co­operatives of artisans, and other mechanisms. Panchayati Raj Institutions would also be involved in promotion and development of bamboo and cane.

» The Market

The Assam Bamboo and Cane Policy is predicated on the adoption of market-led community based development and demand driven approaches.

1. The Government of Assam shall.

a. Take effective steps for developing local manufacturing capability to encourage local demand and, in turn, increase the effective demand for raw material, and the returns to cultivators.
   
b. Support plantation on priority of commercially significant species of bamboo and rattan.
   
c. Involve the community in decision making for resource generation and management, and review state regulatory mechanism that inhibit such people and community centred participation.
   
d. Promote market led stimulation of bamboo growing as an economic activity by easing existing regulations relating to trade and movement of bamboo to ensure appropriate income generation to growers and extractors.
   
e. Provide market linkages, information and support to commercial units based on bamboo and cane products in different applications segments.

» Management of bamboo flowering

Immediate steps would be taken to tackle ongoing bamboo flowering of Muli (Melocanna bambusoides) in South Assam (Barak valley and Hill districts) and other species in different areas.

1. These steps would include:

a. Covering maximum area under plantation program, preferably with superior bamboo species having industrial usage and applications provided that plantation of superior bamboo species for industrial usage should pe done after examining its possible effect on local species and also other ecological aspects. Introduction of exotic species in large scale should be avoided at any cost. Moreover, natural Muli bamboo areas in the wild should not be disturbed by such plantations. Main thrust areas should be private and homestead plantations, and also some select areas under JFM. Muli profusely grows under natural condition in southern Assam but not in upper Assam or westerm Assam, which itself indicates that it has a major role in the ecosystem in that region.
   
b. Protection of flowered areas against fire and grazing to ensure establishment of profuse regeneration.
   
c. Harvesting/removal of flowering culms up to the extent silviculturally available which will reduce fire hazards and will also develop potential for large scale economic usage such as power generation, pulp production and mat weaving etc.
   
d. Documentation and cohort mapping of flowered areas
   
e. Ex-situ conservation of different cohorts;
   
f. Rodent pest management in affected areas of flowering

» Research and Development

The focus of research and development would be to improve existing seedlings & nursery practices, packages of practices and site management practices for different end use applications of bamboo and cane.

a. The Government of Assam shall take steps to promote linkages between research institutions within the state, amongst themselves, and with other such institutions in the country and outside.
   
b. The Government of Assam shall disseminate information on technologies, products and applications, and set up a Bamboo Technology Park at appropriate locations in the State to facilitate effective lab to land transfer. It shall carry out disseminations of technology through campaigns involving extension activities, media support, exhibitions and a programme of demonstrations.

» The implantation mechanism

An Assam Bamboo and Cane Development Agency (ABCD) will be constituted to promote and support the integrated development of the bamboo and cane sector in the State.

a. The Assam Bamboo and Cane Development Agency (ABCD) would be constituted by the Government of Assam as an autonomous, professionally managed nonprofit organization. It would be headed by a Chairman with a technical and professional background and experience. The Chairman would be assisted by a small group of subject and technical experts with professional experience relevant to the tasks of the Agency.
   
b. ln the period before establishment and operationalization of the Agency, a core group would be constituted in the Planning and Development Department, consisting of representatives on deputation from the Industries, Forests and Agriculture Departments, to carry out the tasks to be assigned later to the Agency.
   
c. A Cane & Bamboo Development Institute (CBDI) would be established in the State, and managed by the ABCD. It will be developed as a demand driven center of excellence for extension and training in bamboo and cane to ensure realization of their economic, social and environmental potential in the State as well as in the North-East. The proposed Institute would ensure networking, transfer, adaptation and dissemination of technology as well as capacity building in related sub-segments of bamboo and cane development. It would also carry out application oriented research in relevant fields.
   
d. Funding support would be sought from the Government of India, the North-East Council and other bodies for the establishment of the Institute and related activities.
   
e. The Government of Assam will endeavour to provide funds for the development of the sector through the levy of a cess, set as a proportion of the royalty payable on the extraction of bamboo from forest areas.
   
f. The resources realized from this cess shall be utilized to support the functioning of the ABCD, the Cane & Bamboo Development Institute, and the creation of a corpus of funds to be managed by the ABCD to support projects in the Government, non-governmental, community and private sectors to develop the bamboo and cane sectors.
   
g. Projects taken up from resources available in this corpus shall be selected and approved by an Advisory Committee constituted by the ABCD, and consisting of technical personnel.

» Acts and Rules

1. Existing regulations applicable for Bamboo and Cane (Rattan) development sector would be reviewed and revised, to the extent possible, to suit the objectives and strategies out-lined under the policy.

» Monitoring

1. The Assam Cane and Bamboo Policy shall be implemented through appropriate action plans and implementation programmes for each strategic segment to be development by the concerned Department of the State Government.
   
2. A State Level Advisory Committee (SLAC) of the Bamboo and Cane Development would be formed under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. The committee would monitor on a bi-annual basis the progress of action plans and implementation programmes for each strategic segment.
   
3. The Committee would also ensure that existing regulations applicable for Bamboo and Cane (Rattan) development sector are revised to achieve the objects of the policy.
 
 
 
 
 
     
 
 
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