Campaign for Mass Bamboo Plantation held at Mapao Zingtun

“Campaign for Mass Bamboo Plantation” was organised by the South Asia Bamboo Foundation (SABF), Guwahati, Assam and the Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS), Manipur on Wednesday, the 25th of May 2022 at Mapao Zingtun, Kangpokpi District, Manipur.

Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Minister of  (Education and External Affairs), Government of India graced the inaugural function of the campaign as the Chief Guest. He joined the gathering online from New Delhi. The Guests of Honour included Dr. S. Manikanta Singh, Additional Director (Retd.), Health Service, Government of Manipur, Shri Kamesh Salam, Founder and Executive Director, SABF, former President of World Bamboo Organization & founder, World Bamboo Day Celebrations, Dr. Homen Thangjam, faculty of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Shri. Babloo Loitongbam, Director of Human Rights Alert and Shri Sorei Raman, Chairman Sorshia Christian College, Mapao Zingtun.

Chitra Haobam, social worker was the Special Invitee of the function. And Prof. Amar Yumnam, former Vice-Chancellor of Manipur University presided the function.

The Inaugural Function started with a prayer by Pastor Rev. Angamlei Zimik.

While delivering the Welcome cum Keynote Address, Dr. Atom Sunil Singh, Director of AIMS, emphasized that we are bamboo people as our culture is intrinsically link with bamboo culture. The versatile plant is used right from birth rituals to the death rituals. It is widely used as construction materials, musical instruments, cuisine and various others. However, changing times and new technology have infused new usage of bamboo such as charcoal, fabric, energy drinks and others. From the scientific angle, Dr. Sunil emphasized that bamboo being the fastest growing plant absorbs carbon dioxide the fastest. So there has to be concerted effort on the part of the citizens to plant bamboo and create a sustainable environment for the present and future generation.

Shri Kamesh Salam started with the dual policy confusion that prevails over bamboo in India. He remarked that on one hand, it is treated a forest product like timber. On the other hand, it is treated as a horti/agricultural product like paddy. Therefore, India has not been able to push forward to develop bamboo and associated products in an intelligent manner while the rest of the world has taken enormous benefits out of the “green gold”. Further, he lamented the utter disregard that prevails in Manipur as far as bamboo plantation and value addition of bamboo. Although the Government of Manipur receives handsome amount of money for bamboo & allied venture development, none knows how the money has been utilized by successive governments. Finally, Shri Salam talked about bamboo value chain, without which Manipur or India cannot leap forward in bamboo technology and production of bamboo based products.

Shri. Babloo Loitongbam in his short speech remarked that bamboo plantation can be taken up as a part of the Sustainable Development Goals taken up by the United Nations. He added that what the world needs today is a healthy society. And the most important factor needed for a healthy society is the availability of fresh air and clean environment.

Manipur During the function, Dr. RK Ranjan Singh remarked, “Climate change and pollution in every form is a reality today. In fact, the whole world is gasping for oxygen and talking about oxygen bank”. Thus, he appreciated the “Campaign for Mass Bamboo Plantation” organized by the South Asia Bamboo Foundation (SABF), Guwahati, Assam and Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS), Manipur at Mapao Zingtun, Kangpokpi District of Manipur, as bamboo is the best absorber of carbon dioxide. However, he underscored that while the plantation is being carried out, a proper landscaping must be undertaken to make sure that the bamboos so planted are in a spot that absorb maximum emission. He also advised the organisers and bamboo enthusiasts to be careful while using exogenous bamboo species but instead promote and conserve the existing more than 52 bamboo species of Manipur. He further added that the Manipur civilization is based on bamboo. However, the traditional forms of uses of bamboo need to be boost up taking into consideration various modern applications of the versatile plant.

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Dr. S. Manikanta Singh emphasized that Manipuris need education and awareness regarding poppy plantation in the state. According to him, first of all, poppy plantation destroys the environment as there is mass used of weedicides, insecticides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. He also believes that the opium thus manufactured in Manipur does not leave the state but circulates within it creating health havoc. Therefore, he emphasised on the need of bamboo plantation as an alternative to poppy cultivation. It is not as labour intensive as poppy cultivation. However, the benefits one can reap from bamboo is huge as has been demonstrated by the forward looking states in India as well as other countries.

Shri Sorei Raman recollected how in his childhood days they cooked rice and fish in bamboo stems. He also admitted that although he had personally used bamboo for various purposes he never delved into the cultural and philosophical aspect of bamboo. He added we are throwing away the precious plant that is in abundance around us for cheap plastic and other harmful materials. He concluded by stating that we need to cultivate, conserve and promote bamboo in a sustainable manner.

Also read: Kuki Research Forum (KuRF) on objective historical position of the Kukis in Manipur

Dr. Homen Thangjam pointed out that rows of bamboos that separated one Meitei neighborhood from another is slowly disappearing on account of population pressure and land scarcity.  There has also creeped into our development-loving psyche that cement and steel are the ultimate building materials. Therefore, in the name of development and modernization, bamboo has to be uprooted. Such a mentality and practice has harmed our nature, Thangjam added. He recommended planting bamboos as village boundaries in the hills and where land is available. This will go a long way to make a sustainable environment.

Chitra Haobam, the Special Invitee of the function, recollected how in her childhood they used bamboo-twig toothbrush and powdered various plants with bamboo ash as nutrient. She therefore stressed that a plant that is used right from birth till death needs to be conserved.

In his Presidential Speech, Prof. Amar Yumnam appreciated the beauty of Mapao Zingtun and aspired to make the place a renowned academic hub. As far as bamboo is concerned, he expressed that we are bamboo people. However, it is difficult to come across bamboo products in the Northeast region. In fact, one gets more bamboo products in other tourist places like Mumbai. Perhaps, the problem is on account of absence of a bamboo-loving government either in Manipur or India. Development has to be linked with available resources and culture of the place. Otherwise, there are chances of mis-match between “desire” and “reality” and the development venture bound to be a failure. Therefore, he emphasised that the Government must tap the abundantly available bamboo resource and add it as a valuable component of development chart for income generation and employment creation.

Shri Khavangpam Muiva, the Headman of Mapao Zingtun proposed the vote of thanks.

Organised by: South Asia Bamboo Foundation (SABF), Guwahati, Assam; Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS), Manipur

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