Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Vikas Tandon
Jammu and Kashmir state lies in the North West of the country, having total geographical area 2,22,236 sq.kms and its total population is 1,25,48,926(2011 census). About 19.95% of the total geographical area is covered under forests. Ladakh region receives very less rainfall and is thus devoid of forests contributing about 0.06% to the state forest area. Around 59% of the geographical area of the state is under permanent snow cover, glaciers and cold desert and thus unable to support trees growth. The national level goal in forestry is to cover at least two thirds of the total area in the hilly regions under forests and trees cover. Jammu and Kashmir regions forests account for 47% of the geographical area while Ladakh region is mostly devoid of tree cover. Jammu and Kashmir adopted its own forest policy to maintain adequate forests in various regions of the state in 2011.There is need to popularize bamboo cultivation particularly in the wastelands as bamboo cultivation has immense potential in the state. Bamboo production is a highly commercial industry and its cultivation reduces the soil erosion. It can be a source of extra income and employment for the farmers of the state.
Reasi is a hilly district of Jammu and Kashmir which is located around 72 km away from Jammu and is at 1528 meter above mean sea level. Its population is 3, 14,714 as per 2011 census. It was carved from Udhampur district on 1st April, 2007.This district is surrounded by Udhampur, Rajouri, Jammu, Ramban and Shopian districts. This district of Jammu and Kashmir is world famous because of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. The Chenab River passes through this district which is another centre of attraction in the district. Salal Power Project has been constructed over this river and this generates around 690 MW power.
Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir is an abode of Mata Vaishno Devi and blessed with vast biodiversity. Internationally renowned places like Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra along with some historical places like Shiv Khori Shrine, Dera Baba Banda Bahadur, Baba Aghar Jitto Ji, Siarh Baba, Nao Devian, Dhansar Baba, Ziarat Baji Ismail etc. come under Reasi district and tourists from all over the world used to come in the district throughout the year. Reasi district is having immense scope in bamboo cultivation. The prestigious Salal Hydro Electric Project located at Jyotipuram, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tanda, and Cancer Hospital, Katra are centres of attraction in the district. The proposed train to Kashmir passes through this district and makes it an important place in the national atlas. The district is watershed of the River Chenab and its major tributaries are Banganga, Anji. Ans, Rudd, Plassu and Pai.
Most of the farmers of Reasi district are small and marginal and crops are mostly cultivated under rain fed (about 94%) conditions. Major crops grown in this area are maize, wheat, paddy, mash and potato. Farmers of this district are having very limited resources and mostly they adopt the subsistence system of agriculture. The yield of all the crops is low as compared to the national and state average yields. The adoption percentage of modern agricultural technologies is low resulting in the low socio-economic status of the farmers. There are various insect-pests and disease problems in the district. Boars and monkeys too damage the crops to a large extent in this particular district causing a huge loss to the farmers. Agroforestry has immense potential in the district as large part of the district comes under forests.
Bamboo is an important plant gifted by nature in tropical and subtropical areas. It is also called as wonder plant, green gold, emperor of all grasses, wood of the poor etc. It is used by the people in their every-day utilities. It is closely interwoven with the life of the people in several ways. It can be used as a food, fodder, construction material, paper, mats, musical instruments etc. Bamboo has multiple economical, ecological and social values. Bamboo has manifold uses from cradle to coffin. Bamboo has many uses as a substitute for fast depleting wood and as an alternative to more expensive materials. It can be used in paper industry, to make small footbridges, water pumps, irrigation pipes etc.
In rural areas it can be used as fodder, in making brooms, food, buckets etc. Nutrient analysis of edible bamboos indicated that it contains 77% to 84% moisture, 4% to 7% protein, 5% carbohydrates, 12-13 mg/100G vitamin C and Na, K, Ca, Mg and P as minerals. Bamboo has the potential for checking soil erosion, fast vegetative growth cover to deformed areas and road embankment stabilization. Bamboo tensile strength is 28000 per square inch versus 23000 for steel. It can be used for making pillars, roofs, ceiling, walls etc. It has been traditionally used to make medicines to treat asthma, cough and fever etc. It is also used to make certain structures in earthquake prone areas, in music and arts.
Shafanoo village is about 40 km away from world famous religious place Katra in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. The village is around 10 km. away from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Reasi and farmers of this village seek technical guidelines from KVK scientists. This village is situated in the remote area of Reasi district and is lacking the road and communication connectivity. There are around 350 families in the village. The major occupation of the people is agriculture and the village known for the commercial cultivation of bamboo. There are three Govt. primary schools, two Angadwadi centres and one Janj Ghar in the village.
The village is having around 250 hectares of land. There is no source of irrigation in the village and the village is 100% rain fed. There are about 250 progressive bamboo growers in the village who are producing the bamboo at a commercial level. They have made furnaces in the village where the bamboos are moulded according to their use. The bamboos of this village are very strong and are used for the building purpose, baskets, stairs, nets, for flags etc. The farmers’ sale their produce in local market, Jammu and even in Kashmir province at the rate of Rs.100-120/ bamboo. The farmers of this village are fetching more money by selling their bamboos. Farmers also grow maize, wheat and few local varieties of vegetables as their forefathers were doing. Monkeys and wild boars are the great threats in their fields.
Most of the agricultural produce is consumed by their families with very little surplus to sell. So bamboo is the main livelihood source of the farmers of this village. The technical guidelines on scientific bamboo cultivation are provided by the KVK, Reasi. With the generation of extra income, the farmers developed confidence to mitigate their basic problems. A self- reliance and entrepreneurial spirit has been developed among the farmers. Shafanoo farmers’ success in commercial bamboo cultivation is inspiring the other farmers of the area and they are also shifting towards the commercial bamboo for better economic returns. Gradually many farmers of the area are becoming interested in commercial bamboo cultivation. Bamboo cultivation helped to overcome the problem of monkeys menace in the village as bamboo crop is not damaged by the monkeys. According to a local farmer, Payar Hussain our village is known for bamboo production and quality bamboo is being produced by our village farmers. The village farmers want some bamboo processing units in the village so that income and employment can be generated in the village. They showed interest on the trainings on bamboo processing. According to the Naib Sarpanch of the village, Ratan Lal, “we face problems to sale our bamboo produce but if some industries on bamboos processing are made in the village then whole scenario of the village can be changed. More income and employment can be generated for the villagers.”
Bamboo plays an important role in rural and socioeconomic development of the farmers of this village. Many farmers grow bamboos in and around their farmlands to increase their farm income. The development of artisan skills for handicrafts and wider utility of bamboo can provide more employment opportunities and better income distribution for the people of this village. There is a dire need to aware the bamboo growers about the latest information on introduction, phenology, reproductive biology, propagation, exchange of germplasm, conservation status etc. There is also a need for the introduction of other species of bamboo of ethno biological significance. It has been observed that most of the bamboo growers are lacking up-to-date information on ecological and growth parameters, morphological variability’s, conservation value, methods for multiplication etc. GIS based information system can be developed for the protected areas. Ethno biological approach should be adopted towards the cultivation, preservation of rare and threatened species of bamboo in this village.
There is need of systematic survey, range of distribution, flowering periodicity, ethno biological utilization, phenology, floristic compositions, introduction in production forests and homelands of rural areas. Inter-institutional support both at regional and inter-regional levels and interaction may help in developing, improving and managing the bamboo cultivation in this village. There is need to conserve the bamboo forests etc. Bamboo growers of this area should get the institutional support at regional and state level.
(The writers are: Scientist-cum-Head, KVK, Reasi and Professor, SKUAST-J)