The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) under the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises has launched project BOLD. The project aims to boost the tribal’s income and solve environmental concerns such as land desertification and land degradation by creating bamboo-based green patches in drylands.
Project BOLD or Bamboo Oasis on Lands in Drought aims to create bamboo-based green patches of land in arid and semi-arid zones. The first of its kind exercise in India, project BOLD was launched on June 4 from the tribal village Nichla Mandwa in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Under the project, 5000 saplings of special bamboo species – Bambusa Tulda and Bambusa Polymorpha from Assam were planted on approximately 16 acres of vacant arid Gram Panchayat land. With this, KVIC also created a world record of planting the highest number of bamboo saplings on a single day at one location.
Part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav
The initiative has been launched as part of KVIC’s “Khadi Bamboo Festival” to celebrate 75 years of independence “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”. The project will also be replicated at village Dholera in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and Leh, Ladakh by August this year, under which a total of 15,000 bamboo saplings will be planted before August 21.
Land desertification & cause?
According to the Government’s data presented to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), area under desertification (arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions of the country) during 2011-13 is 82.64 million hectares (mha) whereas during 2003-05 it is 81.48 mha. Thus there is an increase of 1.16 mha area under desertification. Further, close to 29% of India’s area is undergoing degradation.
Recently, the Space Application Centre, ISRO, also published the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India which provides a state-wise area of degraded lands for the time frame 2018-19. It also provides the change analysis for the duration of 15 years, from 2003-05 to 2018-19.
According to the United Nations’ official definition, desertification is land degradation in typically dry areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. Thus, land desertification refers to the process in which the biological productivity of drylands (arid and semi-arid lands) is reduced due to natural or artificial factors such as climate change, natural disasters like drought, soil erosion, overexploitation of resources, and more.
Environmental benefits of bamboo
KVIC has judiciously chosen bamboo for the various benefits bamboo has to offer to the environment. Bamboos are a diverse group of evergreen perennial flowering plants. It belongs to the subfamily of Bambusoideas of the grass family Poaceae.
In India, bamboo covers 13.96 million hectares of area with 136 species. Some of the important bamboos of commercial importance are Bambusa Tulda, Bambusa Balcooa, Bambusa Cacharensis, etc and can be used for making furniture, handicraft, paper pulp, construction work, etc.
Bamboos are very fast-growing plants and can be harvested in about three years. Bamboos are also known for conserving water and reducing evaporation of water from the land surface, which is an important feature in arid and drought-prone regions.
Furthermore, bamboos can be used to control pollution by making use of bamboo charcoal, which has absorption properties.
According to studies (Anon, 2015e), bamboos protects against harmful ultraviolet rays, reduces pollution, reduce up to 35% carbon dioxide in the climate, and deliver more oxygen. Further, bamboo roots also help in controlling erosion as it makes a water barrier. Bamboo also devours high amounts of nitrogen and this helps decrease water pollution.
Benefits to rural tribal
Member of Parliament, Arjun Lal Meena said the bamboo plantation program in Udaipur will boost self-employment in the region. He said such projects will benefit a large number of women and unemployed youths in the region by connecting them to skill development programs.
Bamboos can be used for multiple economic activities such as for construction purposes, thus saving locals the cost of timber, bricks, and steel. Further, it provides livelihood opportunities for locals and tribal men and women in form of handicrafts, making bamboo furniture, culinary items, paper, bags, handbags, textile, household items, to name a few.
Benefits to environment
Bamboos are great sources to reduce land degradation, prevent land desertification, achieve sustainable development and solve food security issues.
By preventing land desertification, it can further solve associated problems like soil infertility, soil erosion, deforestation. Further, bamboo cultivation will also give rise to the restoration of biodiversity and save the extinction of species of animals by providing them habitat.
It also poses a solution to problems related to famine, mass migration of animals and birds. It also solves food security issues as bamboo shoots are also eatable.