For optimum utilization of available bamboo resources

For optimum utilization of available bamboo resources

Trainings on making different products from bamboo were provided to a community in Pemagatshel

The Social Forestry and Extension Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, has completed a pilot project that trained about 24 people in modern bamboo carpentry, that will enable people to come out with bamboo products. The 12-day-training was conducted in collaboration with the Pemagatshel Forest Division and Gewog Office and ended recently.

Organized with funding support from the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), the training mainly saw members of the development group, Ngangshing Phendey Gyelsey Thrungkar Community Forest participate and learn the art of making bamboo furniture and other household utility products (Tsharzo). The most common bamboo products the trainees learned were to make bamboo furniture, such as, sofas, chairs and tables apart from trays, dustbins, beds and flower stands, and other household kitchen utensils.

An official from the forest department, Pema Rinzin, said that the training was conducted to provide hands-on training in modern bamboo carpentry to selected Carpenter Farmer (CF) members and to build the capacity of CF members in bamboo product design and development.

“The new designs for cane and bamboo products are critical, as traditional products have become more obsolete as science and technology in plastic production have advanced,” he said.

According to the official, the place for training was selected based on the availability of bamboo resources and the carpentry skills possessed by the members. Further, he added that the group also has youth who can take up bamboo-based enterprises as their occupation in the future.

He said, “It was focused mainly on the production of bamboo furniture for diversification of income sources and was conducted in collaboration with the forest range office, Nganglam.”

The officer said that during the 12 day-training, period, CF members were capacitated in the design and development of nine products.

Meanwhile, tables, chairs, sofas, serving trays, packaging boxes, mugs, relaxing chairs, flower shelves, and “A” frame drying shelves, all made out of bamboo were among the products created during the farmers’ training.

The official also said the participants have also made traditional bamboo products such as bamboo ladles and cups. “The joineries adopted for products are fish mouth, 45-degree cutting and joining, and 90-degree holes through bamboo culms.”

The officer also said that besides product development, they also built capacity on the choice of bamboo species for the development of different products. Participants also learned bamboo culm selection, a skill to develop and select bamboo collection sites to produce bamboo products.

According to the officer, the training was given primarily to reduce pressure on timber and increase bamboo utilization at the community level. Further, by learning the craft, opportunities for self-employment are created, while people can also generate additional income.

Additionally, he said that the participants have actively participated in the program and learned how to make different bamboo products. “Although training as such was the first of its kind in the area, they could easily pick it up because of their woodworking background,” he said, adding that the trainees were overjoyed to get such an opportunity. Moreover, people can now make good use of bamboo. 

However, he shared that although the group shows enthusiasm to produce demand-based bamboo products, it would only be possible through timely intervention by relevant agencies, such as the department of forestry and park services, the gewog administration in Dechheling, the regional agriculture marketing cooperative office in Mongar, and the CSI Bank.

According to the official, the groups are hindered by lack of proper tools and equipment required for raw material processing and final finishing.

He also said that there are some challenges pertaining to timely backstopping and support that are crucial in areas such as capacity building in bamboo resource assessment, designing of new products, conducting market research for the products, and sanctioning of loans for the purchase of required tools and machinery.

“It is only through mechanization or semi-mechanization that the groups would be able to produce better-quality products,” he said.

The participants were also briefed on the importance of bamboo treatment and different methods currently applied to increase the lifespan of bamboo products. “Imparting knowledge on this was important as craftspeople always face challenges in product development, particularly during the monsoon season,” the official said.

He also said that the learners were trained on bamboo resource assessment and species of bamboo for furniture making.

Decheling gup Jinpa Phuntsho stated that the training was extremely beneficial to both the community and the team. “This training will help them to generate income, promote and preserve the art of furniture, and moreover, create job opportunities for the youth,” the gup added. 

The community chairman, Tenzin Wangchuk, also said that the training has helped them in encouraging people to do more bamboo-related work as bamboo is easily available in their community.

He said that most people in his community have expressed interest in the art and that people had requested for trainings.

However, he said that their work on Tsharzo is currently on hold because most members are involved in other projects. Nevertheless, he said, “Sooner or later, we are going to continue the work.”

 “The most challenging part is the lack of proper working space,” he said. For now they are using their monastery’s space. In the future, the community Tsharzo group will train more youth.

Meanwhile, in the presence of the chairperson, Dechheling Gewog Yargye Tshogchung, (Gewog Development Committee), an action plan was developed based on training skills and to ensure the establishment of a bamboo-based enterprise.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu