Shoo-Foo was proud to learn that on September 18 of this month, organizations around the world, from India to Nicaragua, Belgium and Hawaii, were actively celebrating the high worth of this “green gold.” The promotions encouraged the sustainable use of bamboo and included events such as bamboo planting, a ‘Run for Bamboo’ marathon, craft competitions, workshops and more.
The idea behind World Bamboo Day was instigated by the U.S. based World Bamboo Organization, with founding members from countries all over the world. The goal is to realize the biological benefits of bamboo while also using it as a resource to help poorer economies and local communities around the world.
A major location for this year’s celebrations were in the province of Nagaland in India, which in 2004 instituted a Bamboo Policy “With a view to promote and develop Bamboo and its potentials as a major Economic activity in the State.” True to many Eastern countries, bamboo has been an integral part of daily living in cultures, even until today. Some calculate over 1,500 uses for bamboo, from building material to food. In fact, the Bambooo Policy’s vision statement clearly explains the political and economic importance of bamboo in the lives of the Naga people:
“The Naga people have survived through the centuries with the diverse and varied uses of bamboo and its products. From the cutting of the umbilical cord to the mats that have wrapped the dead for burial, Bamboo has been integral to the life of the Nagas. It continues to play a predominant role in the life of the people even today in every walk of life that ranges from agricultural tools and implements to shelter, food, and livelihood.” (See http://www.nagalandbamboomission.org/modules.php?name=Policy).
In Calcutta’s The Telegraph, it was reported that Nagaland’s chief minister, Neiphiu Rio said at a World Bamboo Day event that bamboo had the ability to make major improvements to the people of India. In fact, since implementing the Bamboo Policy, the state has already improved, with direct benefits going to villages cultivating bamboo in India. (See http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100917/jsp/northeast/story_12945235.jsp)
In addition to all the ‘fun’ that was being had with things like the craft bazaar in India and the bamboo cuisine in Hawaii, seminars were being held to attract entrepreneurs and investors. India alone has 10.3 million hectares of bamboo forest, and with the grass plant being such a renewable resource, growing to full maturity within about 7 years, the potential for its further development is sky high. However, India was not alone in the promotion of business with bamboo. Israel, Columbia, Brazil, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. were all participants holding seminars in honour of World Bamboo Day. In Nicaragua, open houses and tours were held in factories producing bamboo building materials such as pillars and mats and even prefabricated homes. (Visit http://worldbambooday.org for a complete description of events and country participation).
Concurrent to the celebrations around World Bamboo Day, In Shanghai, China, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) was at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 with a mimic of Beijing’s monumental Temple of Heaven made of bamboo. Their goal was to use the major structure to attract government officials and corporations in order to interest them with the many highly beneficial uses of bamboo that extend beyond simple crafts. For example, making charcoal out of Bamboo is one of their promotions, since it actually absorbs chemicals and can limit deforestation and pollution. Another of their ambitions is to portray bamboo as the “wise man’s timber” as a sustainable building resource that can also help reduce poverty.
Currently, bamboo is being used positively in Africa to make bikes for transportation and to help local communities there. In Tanzania, women are being taught skills with the bamboo plant in order to help them escape from poverty, which often leads to prostitution and thus the spread of HIV and AIDS.