Jammu- Kathua has seen the rise of 19 bamboo units of cooperative societies, of which eight were sanctioned during the financial year 2021-22, thanks to the region's distinct topography and geo-climatic conditions that offer an environment conducive for bamboo plants, officials said.
"The Shivalik range of hills along the Jammu-Pathankot highway in Kathua has a good concentration of bamboo plants. It has immense potential for generating income and employment in the district," a senior officer said.
Under the financial support scheme, the department has so far opened 19 bamboo units of cooperative societies, including eight during the financial year 2021-22, the officials said.
The department has sent nine local bamboo artisans to Assam for a 21-day capacity building and skill development training in bamboo craft, they said.
After getting trained in Assam, they are expected to act as catalysts by in imparting training to the other interested local artisans.
According to the assistant director of Kathua handicrafts department, bamboo clusters will be opened in Dewal and Billawar under the North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC) for which survey is being conducted and camps organised to register artisans.
Bamboo is also called as 'wonder plant', 'green gold', 'emperor of grasses' and 'woods of the poor' because it is used by the people in their everyday life.
"From the past several years, bamboo is closely interwoven with the life of people in Kathua in several ways. It is used as a construction material besides for the production of everyday utilities such as basket, chair, table, brush, almirah, bed and decorative items. The people also earn their livelihood by selling a number of bamboo artifacts," a unit holder said.
The department of handicrafts, Kathua, has one advanced and three elementary bamboo training centres. It also has a bamboo common facility centre and a showroom for exhibition of artifacts, they added.
In view of further improving their designs, the department has collaborated with School of Design, Jammu, to acquaint the local artisans with the latest trends, they said.
Four training centres are being run by the department of handicrafts in Kathua with an intake capacity of 80 trainees per year. The trained artisans are making a number of new bamboo products such as design pen stands, decorative table chair sets, flower baskets, models of Atal Setu (bridge), name plates, bamboo flowers with stands and round tables among others, they said.
To strengthen the production and marketing of bamboo artifacts, the government is providing non-refundable financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh per year in two equal instalments to the Bamboo Co-operative Societies, they said.
The union territory government has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NECBDC Assam for Bamboo Entrepreneurship and Bamboo Infrastructure Development in Jammu and Kashmir, they said.
This MoU lays on focus on bamboo production, its processing, associated businesses and developing the bamboo industry.
It will create financial and market linkages for the bamboo produce and facilitate in the promotion of start-up entrepreneurship, besides developing training facilities for farmers, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, and villagers associated with the bamboo sector, they said.
It will also facilitate market awareness to entrepreneurs, and joint exhibitions and export promotions among others.
With these developments, Kathua is slated to become the frontrunner in bamboo-based agricultural start-ups with its versatile properties and multiple uses in the form of agarbattis, pillars, fencing, housing, household products, raw materials of crafts, pulp, paper, boards, fabrics industry, fuel, fodder, charcoal, food, pickle, garments, socks, jewellery, tooth brushes and medicine among others, they said.
"This will pave the way for the formation and development of bamboo as an industry in Kathua. At the same time, it highlights the tremendous potential this industry holds to revolutionize the economy of the region besides offering limitless opportunities to the artisans of Kathua," the senior officer said.
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