Mumbai : In 1945, when the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked at the height of World War II, everything perished. The vegetation was completely destroyed. But the first plant that came to life was bamboo.
"Such is the strength of this plant," points out Sunil Joshi, the secretary of Institute of Village Enterprise Development for Handicraft Artisans (VEDHA), an NGO-based in Nagpur.
Joshi was in Mumbai promoting bamboo products from the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, which is witnessing the worst-ever agrarian crisis because of which several hundred farmers, mainly engaged in cotton production, have committed suicide in the past few years.
"Bamboo products are gaining popularity day by day and we need to look at it seriously," said Nitin Gadkari, a former leader of opposition in the Maharashtra legislative council and currently the Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party president.
"Today after China, India is the biggest bamboo market and has a tremendous export potential," the former public works department minister said.
He said he has already taken up the issue with Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and urged him that the government should look into bamboo and bamboo products so that the condition of farmers could be improved.
To highlight bamboo products from the Vidarbha region, VEDHA and Bamboo Handicraft Artisan's Welfare and Network Association (BHAWNA) organised a two-day-long exhibition – "Bamboo: An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle".
"Nowadays even bamboo tiles are being used," said Gadkari, talking about the strength of bamboo products.
Joshi said the annual turnover of China from bamboo and bamboo products was of the order of $7 billion, whereas in India it was Rs.20 billion in 2000 – the majority coming from the northeast region.
"We are now looking and aiming at Rs.260 billion by 2015," he said and said the potential needed to be harnessed given the fact that bamboo is eco-friendly.
At the two-day event, bamboo products, including furniture, handicrafts like lampshades, souvenirs, pottery, mats and other items were displayed. The exhibition aimed at demonstrating not only exclusively innovated, crafted and sculpted bamboo handicrafts and furniture products for connoisseur Mumbaikars, but also developing linkages with dealers and exporters.
"We want to make our presence felt in Mumbai and Thane," said Joshi.