By Priyadarsini Das and Kamala Kanta Dash
The world is going through unprecedented times of pandemic, post-pandemic rebuilding, war, and war like situations, their resultant negative impact on growth & economy, and above all the world is racing against time to fight climate change and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Now it is no surprise that all our developmental policies, objectives, initiatives, and implementations are increasingly being evaluated through its impact on climate change.
As the climate change debate intensifies, creating employment for the rising population in a country like India becomes a big challenge. Policy orientations, and initiatives at different international, national, and regional levels are being taken to create green employment opportunities and green jobs, so that additional employment should not put further pressure and stress on the environment.
A new generation of entrepreneurs are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint by choosing sustainable inputs, processes, and products. In a state like Odisha, a vast majority of population is living in rural and tribal areas, providing employment and livelihood opportunities have been a big challenge. This rural and tribal population base of Odisha has got tremendous opportunities for adopting many green employment and income generating opportunities. One such resource-base is bamboo in Odisha that has got enormous potential to create green employment opportunities for thousands of people in Odisha, particularly in the rural and tribal areas.
As we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of World Bamboo Day today on 18th September 2023, we must know the relevance of bamboo in fighting two important challenges that is employment and climate change today in our country. This day is being celebrated to create awareness about the importance and versatile usage of the bamboo plant.
Bamboo is a perennial and evergreen plant that grows very fast and can be grown in varied climatic conditions. Bamboo as a grass is naturally grown in most of the poorest regions of the country and found in most of the aspirational districts of the country and state. Historically, bamboo has been used for various purposes since the beginning of human civilization and it continues to be relevant today as well. Bamboo has been a part of our civilization, economy, culture, and an important part of our day-to-day life. People in Odisha use bamboo in numerous ways from construction of house, fencing, making of baskets of different sizes for numerous uses, sticks, as lifting weight on shoulder, for fencing, for making furniture, handicrafts, home décor products, for charcoal, medicinal purposes, bamboo-shoot as a food, and many more. With invention of plastic, and metal and advent of technological progress the world moved for mass production and radically replaced bamboo with plastic and metal in many of its uses. This has marginalized the traditional bamboo-based economy in the country in general and the state of Odisha, in particular.
Today, when the world is looking for greener and sustainable products, bamboo has got tremendous potential in offering a wide range of products to the world. The domestic and international market demand for bamboo-based products like bamboo-handicrafts, bamboo-furniture, bamboo-décor, bamboo-jewellery, and accessories is also rising and creating huge opportunities for a state like Odisha, where the raw material is not only available in abundance, but also, we have a great traditional artisan base to take advantage out of this. Looking at the shift of global demand patterns, there is a need of new product development by bringing together tradition and modernity in making solid bamboo-based products from jewellery, to accessories to décor for different niche customers in domestic and international market. A fusion of solid bamboo and other eco-friendly materials in making jewellery and accessories has great demand in the market.
It is worth mentioning that our initiative ‘Ecodarsini’, that produces bamboo-based eco-friendly jewellery and accessories has reached to different niche customer-base in the domestic and international market and is well appreciated while commanding a premium price. There is tremendous scope for creating a bamboo-based economy in Odisha through adopting a right strategy by integrating bamboo-farming, training on both solid and sliver-based product design and technology and creating schemes to integrate the supply chain for bamboo-based products with the domestic and international market. The state can address two most pressing issues of climate change and unemployment by strategically adopting and promoting a bamboo-based economy in the state. Yesterday on the occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi lunched the PM Vishwakarma’s Scheme to give effect to millions of artisans from different spectrums of our country’s rich craft tradition. I am sure, this would also boost the bamboo-based artisans in upgrading their skills and enterprise to take benefit of the growing market for bamboo and fusion-based eco-friendly products.
Ms. Priyadarsini is a sustainable jewelry and accessory designer from Odisha known for her innovative bamboo jewelry training designed for rural and tribal women under her green footprint initiative ‘Ecodarsini’, Mr. Dash teaches public policy and sustainability for management students. Opinions shared here are personal.