R@D for bamboo: issues for unfolding future potential
It is ironic that communities that grow or conserve Bamboo diversity in our country are among the poorest. One of the key reasons could be lack of adequate R@D support, tools and techniques for in situ value addition, characterization of Bamboo diversity for multiple high-value products like composites for industrial use, and diversity of bamboo-based food, nutrition and health products.
Some of the urgent areas thus needing attention are listed here:
- There is sufficient literature on bamboo for construction, hardboards, furniture, crafts, incense sticks etc., though the diffusion of innovative machines to facilitate these uses is still highly limited.
- Characterization of Bamboo diversity for High value uses such as immuno-boosting and other human and livestock medicines, nutraceutical, food and nutrition substances like vinegar, shoot and leaf extracts etc., needs urgent attention
- The use of bamboo charcoal, composites, fibres, and other derivative products in the industry, water treatment and other industrial and environmental applications requires a major effort to analyze species, space and season interactions with social practices of managing cultivation areas.
- Soil conservation, fire management, and numerous other applications have been researched. But more precise location-specific recommendations need further work.
- Folk Classification and other kinds of traditional knowledge of Bamboo have to be systematically mapped to the modern systems of classification and utilization. Perhaps new areas of fertile collaborative research will emerge through the close involvement of local communities protecting their IPRs/knowledge rights.
- Local biotechnological, mechanical and electronic innovations in processing bamboo for conventional as well as new applications needs focused attention to mobilize and initiate action research experiments through thousands of community-based enterprises. A few pilots here and there will not do.
- Social science including management science applications in institution building for bamboo-based social and market enterprises, DIY knowledge databases and other open-source multi-language, multi-media databases are urgently needed
- A major all India coordinated action-research and learning project to document, validate and value add in local knowledge, address unmet needs and trigger local enterprises is needed
- Despite huge resources having been spent in Bamboo research, we don’t have a gis grid-based summary of findings so that any community can figure out what is relevant for it and how can it benefit from it. A Pincode based research utilization system is needed for the country and then for the South Asia.
- A micro-venture innovation fund of at least -1000 cr needs to be set up to translate knowledge for and from grassroots into high-risk enterprises.
- All the design and technology institutions may be involved in a Design and Innovation Network for Bamboo (DesIN bamboo) to develop innovative tools and processing machinery for different scales
- Attractive Innovation Challenge awards may be announced for solving intractable problems
- Dedicated incubators for bamboo-based enterprises need to be set up in tribal and other regions for promoting innovation-based enterprises
- Postgraduate fellowships, summer school on inclusive innovations and other such platforms need to be activated at tried by the Honey Bee network to address the problems which have not attracted formal R&D system adequately.
- We should start longterm monitoring trials say for 50-100 years to develop deeper understanding of the socio-ecological systems around bamboo so as to plan conservation and augmentation better. Such Biodiversity Observatories should be co-managed with local communities.