Limitation of bamboo Handicraft Industry
23rd March – 2018
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FASHION TECHNOLOGY
Dharmsala, Mangattuparamba, Kannur – 670562, India
LIMITATION OF BAMBOO HANDICRAFT INDUSTRY
M.Des, 2018 Kannur
National Institute of Fashion Technology
Bamboos are the most beautiful and useful plants on the Earth, mainly found in the tropical and
sub-tropical regions of the world. Bamboos are fast growing and early maturing, but lack of
proper management of bamboo resources is leading to rapid reduction of the existing
bamboosetum. Although India is one of the largest reserve of bamboos due to the lack of
technology and skills interventions in craft sector we didn’t get any remarkable achievement till
now. Also because of lack of wages artisans are not interested to continue their profession and
deviating towards other sectors. The main of this paper is to investigate different limitations of
bamboo and discuss what can be done in order to overcome this problem.
Key words: limitation, flowering of bamboo, value addition, technology intervention, bamboo
craft, industrialization, wage capital
India has the second largest reserve of bamboo populations in the world. The fibers of bamboo are
mainly used in the pulp, paper and charcoal industries, while the culms have several other uses as
‘poor man’s timber’. The total annual bamboo demand in India has been estimated to be approx.
5 million tonnes, of which about 3-5 million tonnes are required by the paper and pulp industry
The bamboo industry with immense economic potential in a labour surplus south Indian economy
has an important role in both the traditional and non-traditional sectors. In south India, bamboo
has many domestic, agricultural and commercial uses and cultural linkage with the bamboo
dependent and indigenous people. The artisans in this sector make bamboo products for their
sustenance and they are endowed only with traditional skills, tools and work experience. Their
bamboo based productive activities mainly involve the four stages of procurement, processing,
production and marketing. The raw material requirement of the bamboo dependents is mainly
sourced from natural areas/forest depots, private depots, local market and home gardens. There is
no technological innovation and mechanization involved in processing and production. The sector
follows basically labour intensive methods and the role of capital is near zero. Production is a
small scale household based activity with traditional tools, no product diversification and value
addition. Which is the main limitation of production of bamboo products, due to the lack of
technological intervention massive production is not possible
Due to erratic flowering of bamboos, it cause problems in identification of proper species.
Identification and genetic relationships in 12 species of bamboo were investigated using random
amplified polymorphic DNAs (RAPD) technique. But still many varieties of bamboo species are
there in India which are still not in use, due to the lack of research process.
Lack of value addition to the Bamboo products in India, presents the challenges in the sector within
the framework of the Production-to-Consumption System. It is discovered that Bamboo, an even
larger export market currently dominated by China exists, which may be tapped through
industrialization of the sector. A wide multitude of challenges exist at each stage in the Production-
to-Consumption System, many of them being legislative and regulatory in nature, while many
others relate to improper and insufficient implementation of existing programs. Also it is found
that due to the lack of wages artisans are not interested work in bamboo sectors, so due to lack of
scope and wages people are getting deviated from bamboo industries, which can considered as the
biggest limitation of bamboo industries in India.
The main objective of this paper is to identify and assess the limitations of bamboo handicraft
industry, study the structure and functioning of the industry and where we are lacking and to
suggest strategies to improve the condition of the industry.
The study relied on both primary and secondary sources of collecting information for
understanding the structure and function of the bamboo handicraft industry in the south Indian
states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. There are registered and
unregistered bamboo handicraft units functioning in the different States under various institutions
controlled by the state and central governments, also different NGOs are there which are associated
with bamboo handicrafts sector.
The majority of bamboos are arbore scent and perennial (JOHN AND NADGAUDA, 1999). The
erect stems (culms) of woody bamboos are useful for a wide variety of purposes. Most bamboos
flower only once at the end of very long vegetative growth phases and die afterwards. Flowering
in bamboos is thought to be under genetic control, occurring somewhat like an alarm clock, going
off at a preset time. The nature of this genetic clock and any interaction between the “internal
clock’ and the environment are not yet known. Because of this “peculiar’ flowering behavim:
bamboo seeds are available only at very long intervals.
The frequency of bamboo cutting cycles is based on working convenience. Periodic flowering
coupled with misuse and lack of protection has r-educed the extent of bamboo forests. Some
foresters believe that bamboo rhizomes extend outwards and young bamboo culms depend on the
support of the old culms. Studies have shown that the development of new culms is not peripheral.
Culms older than two year-s do not affect the production of new culms. The productivity of
bamboo forests depends on the production and size of new culms. Clump age is controlled by the
genetics of the seed but culm age depends on the provenance and climatic conditions. Removal of
dry culms increases the production of new culms. Vegetative reproduction methods have been
worked out for several bamboo species but the success depends on the age of the culm and the
season of cutting.
Among the 136 species comprising the 21 genera of bamboos recorded from India, 24 species
consisting of eight genera are known to occur in peninsular India. Of these, nine species of
Ochlandra which are reeds are used in the pulp and paper industry, mat making and basket-making
in the traditional industrial sector in Kerala. Five species of Ochlandra such as Ochlandra
beddomei. Ochlandra ebracteata, Ochlandra setigera. Ochlandra sivaairiana and Ochlandra
talbortii are reported to be endangered and restricted in distribution in Kerala (Muktesh Kumar).
Production of bamboo handicraft in Kerala, traditionally a hereditary occupation restricted to a
particular caste, is now practiced by anyone with the necessary aptitude and skill. This is where
the non-traditional sector comes into prominence. Although both the sectors use the same raw
material, the inefficacies pertaining to production, marketing and technology are different. A
majority of the non-traditional handicraft units are very small with low investment. Besides, cost
escalation and low surplus generation in the past few years make investment in this sector less
attractive. The value addition or surplus generation in manufacturing of bamboo handicrafts by the
non-traditional sector is very low in Kerala. Development of technology in this sector is also low
considering the fact that this is an activity carried out by the socially and economically weaker
sections in the society (Muraleedharan, P. K. and Anitha. V., 2007). This paper attempts to analyze
problems and prospectus relating to value addition and technological development of bamboo
handicraft industry in non-traditional sector.
In course of time, each stratum developed its own subculture, the Shudras were reduced to
permanent backwardness as a service class. Each caste has its own customs, traditions and rituals
to regulate the behavior of Caste members. Caste gets survival through this behavior. Caste
economy promoted occupational interdependence (jajmani system). These occupational caste
groups can be categorized as (i) Artisan castes (ii) Service castes. For a comprehensive
understanding of the current status of the Artisan sector in southern India, it is important to
understand the Artisan value chain. It depends on Human Resources, Legal Entities, Credits,
Facilities, Technology, Transport to markets, Quality checks, marketing and promotion goods.
Globalization is unique processes which offer new opportunities to humankind but also poses
many challenges (CH. Sruthi and T. Ramesh, 2015). The biggest problem while implementing the
developmental schemes is the lack of proper knowledge on handicraft units and number of artisans.
RESULT AND DISCUSSION
Flowering problem of bamboo
Bamboos seldom and unpredictably flower, and the frequency of flowering varies greatly from
species to species. Once flowering takes place, a plant declines and often dies entirely. In fact,
many species only flower at intervals as long as 65 or 120 years. These taxa exhibit mass
flowering (or gregarious flowering), with all plants in a particular ‘cohort’ flowering over a several-
year period. Any plant derived through clonal propagation from this cohort will also flower
regardless of whether it has been planted in a different location. The longest mass flowering
interval known is 130 years, and it is for the species Phyllostachys bambusoides. In this species,
all plants of the same stock flower at the same time, regardless of differences in geographic
locations or climatic conditions, and then the bamboo dies. The lack of environmental impact on
the time of flowering indicates the presence of some sort of “alarm clock” in each cell of the plant
which signals the diversion of all energy to flower production and the cessation of vegetative
growth. This mechanism, as well as the evolutionary cause behind it, is still largely a mystery.
Lack of technological and design intervention:
Technological advancement is the key factor for any production sector as it enhances productivity
on one hand and reduces cost of production. In bamboo handicraft sector in south India
technological advancement is poor and most of the people depend on traditional tools and
equipment. Most of the units being small scale or cottage with poor financial capability use low
cost tools and machineries in their different stages of production. Being largely labour intensive
they apply manual labour in all stages and this results in reduced productivity per day. These
traditional tools are also often locally produced or purchased from the market. They use different
types of knifes in the different stages of production. According to their traditional and native
difference, shapes of tools too vary in each state.
Productive capacity and income generation
Income generation depicts artisans wage ranging from Rs.1875 to Rs. 9000 for the production of
lamp shade, oval basket, flower vase, blinds and table mat per month. The average working days
calculated as 25 days per month and actual productivity of labour is two to three units on
lampshade, oval basket and flower vase and 30 to 35.7 square feet on blinds and table mat per day.
Therefore, among the five items, blinds making artisan earned more wages (Rs. 9000) than others.
The productive capacity is high in case of blinds production because of mechanisation when
compared to others. Machineries’like cutter and spinning loom are used in the production of blinds
and table mat. Primary data estimates of a bamboo cluster cluster
(h. 6xd.32 “)
(h. 4xd. 3M
(h. 7.5xd. 20″)
Sq.ft (0.09m2 )
No. of days
From above data it seems how much wages the artisans are getting, so due to the lack of wages
artisans are not interested work in bamboo sectors, also due to lack of scope and wages people are
getting deviated from bamboo industries,
1. Establishing germplasm, live collections and seed storage units
? Record flowering details of different species and populations of bamboo within and
outside the State.
? Identify different flowering cohorts of the same species based on flowering records.
? Identify elite clumps from each cohort.
? Establish germplasm to conserve intra-specific variability.
? Establish live collections of bamboo species.
2. Providing input for technology/product development
? Develop appropriate tools and technologies.
? Upgrade tools and technologies.
? Innovate products and add value to products.
? Product design diversification
? Efficiency improvement
3. Conducting market research
1. Promoting bamboo industry.
? Simplify procedures for securing loans.
? Categorize the industry into cottage, small, medium and large scale to ensure development
at each level.
2. Ensuring raw material supply
3. Ensuring skilled manpower a. Ensure availability of trained/skilled manpower.
4. Facilitating availability of tools/ machinery/ technology
? Facilitate availability of hand tools and semi-mechanised and mechanised machinery for
cross-cutting, slivering, slat/stick making, etc.
? Set up Common Facility Centres (CFCs) for pre, primary and secondary processing.
Set up an institutional arrangement
? Providing incentives to utilize improved technology.
? Encouraging private investments in the bamboo sector.
? Providing machines like cross cutting, slivering, etc. on a grant or loan basis.
? Providing timely adequate market information and access.
? Protecting the rights of the workers/weavers by substituting bamboo/reed products for
plastics; making it mandatory for the government owned units of agro processing, fishing,
etc. to use these products.
? Creating a general fund for the development of this sector by way of levying a tax (Green
Tax) on environmentally hazardous products which can be substituted by bamboo
products. (By using the fund, encourage the self-help groups to cultivate bamboo along
riverbanks, government lands and other wastelands.
The study on limitation of bamboo handicraft industry led to the following conclusions/indications.
? There is lack of research and development activities associated with the species of bamboo
and their flowering periods, which is the limitation considered to be in the handicraft
? The handicraft industry although predicted to be on the increase based on national and
international markets, the industry seemed to be lagging due to severe competition from
? The industry is faced with a number of problems ie. The small scale (micro enterprises)
and cottage units in south India depict low productive capacity mainly due to lack of
mechanization. The informal sector is a limiting factor to the optimal and sustainable
development of the industry due to its unhindered growth. The existence of a formal and
informal sector makes the information base of bamboo very weak and inconsistent, and
full of gaps.
? Due to the lack of design interventions and lack of market knowledge bamboo sectors are
not able to achieve something remarkable in handicraft sector.
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