No market for bamboo in Radhi

The plantation of bamboo in Radhi started a decade ago to combat land degradation

Bamboo was once considered as a major source of income for the locals in Radhi gewog in Trashigang, but not anymore.

The demand for bamboo from Radhi gewog has been dwindling over the years and the local residents have not been able to plant new bamboo saplings in absence of the demand for bamboo poles.

Bamboos are now mostly used by people to hoist prayer flags and for fencing, while the dry ones are used as firewood. But a few years back, farmers say they were earning a good income from selling bamboos.

Nonetheless, paddy fields are the economic backbone for the people of Radhi and almost every household cultivates paddy, accounting for the maximum rice production in the Dzongkhag.

However, unnatural occurrence has triggered flashflood in the past, where farmers have lost their land to landslides.

To mitigate the threat, the government provided incentives for planting bamboos to combat land degradation in the gewog.

“We were given Nu 10 for planting a sapling,” said a local resident, Sonam Tobgay. “Bamboo poles were in high demand with many construction activities in the Dzongkhag.”

Since then the locals of Radhi even used to supply bamboo poles to places like Kanglung, Wamrong and other nearby Dzongkhags.

However, it has been over four years now that people are facing difficulty in finding bamboo buyers.

Gewog officials attribute the decrease in the demand of bamboo poles to a fewer constructions in the Dzongkhag. “Those farmers who have been able to find buyers for their bamboos are selling at Nu 100 per bamboo pole which is cheap,” Radhi gup Kulung said.

The gup said the gewog has potential to supply a minimum of about 15 truckloads and maximum of 20 truckloads of bamboo as every household in the gewog has cultivated bamboos.

Additionally, the gup said, “We are planting more bamboos every year as we can see a promising future market. Likewise, if the government could help us to explore the market for bamboo, it will benefit the farmers.”

Meanwhile, the plantation of bamboo in Radhi started a decade ago to combat land degradation.

Similarly, the once-thriving bamboo weaving tradition in Phongmey gewog is under threat too.

Lack of market and lack of interest among the younger generation is aiding the disappearance of the tradition.

Lekjay, a farmer from Phongmey, said other better economic opportunities like working at the construction sites are discouraging people from keeping the tradition alive.

However, locals like Lekjay are optimistic of reviving the tradition since the demand for bamboo mats are increasing yearly.

Meanwhile, the gewog mostly produce bamboo mats and the mats are used for drying and thrashing paddy in the neighboring gewogs like Radhi.

Jigme Wangchen from Radhi, T/gang