Advantages of ‘Green Gold’

(Probable Question: Bamboo has been described as ‘Green Gold’ and significant focus has been accorded to it in the current budget. Mention the advantages of cultivation of Bamboo.

Note: Questions may be asked in relation to significant agricultural products which have been in the news. Similar Question: Mention the advantages of the cultivation of pulses because of which the year 2016 was declared as the International Year of Pulses by United Nations.  (150 words) – GS Paper I – CSE Mains – 2017).

Bamboo cultivation has significant advantages. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants. A pole of the plant can fully regenerate in three to five months, while other commercially-important woody plants take about five years to mature. Bamboo has the potential to become the wood substitute in many ways, as modern industrial techniques enable its use to provide flooring, plywood, laminates and furniture.

The major advantages/applications of Bamboo are as follows:

  1. Bamboo can be the best substitute to concrete. It can replace 70 per cent of steel and wood used in construction, and bring down the costs by nearly 40 per cent.
  2. Bamboo is light enough to be a safe material to build with in seismic zones, but is muscular and sturdy with the fibres of the bamboo being twice as strong as steel. Number of countries around the globe are already using Bamboo reinforced concrete thereby replacing steel reinforced concrete.
  3. Bamboo lumber is useful in partitions and the ply for floorings. 
  4. The blades for wind energy make use of bamboo.
  5. Bamboo has immense applications in the handicrafts industry.
  6. Bamboo can also be used to “repair” soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agricultural techniques, while its complex network of roots are ideal for preventing soil erosion and flooding. Unlike most tree species, harvesting does not kill the bamboo, so topsoil erosion and other adverse effects of tree-felling are kept to a minimum.
  7. Given the carbon dioxide emissions thought to be responsible for global warming and the threat to biodiversity, bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than other trees.

Relevant data: 

  • Around 80 percent of bamboo forests lie in Asia with India, China and Myanmar.
  • India is the world’s second largest grower of bamboo with 136 species, 23 genera spreading over 13.96 million hectares; the country’s share in the global bamboo trade and commerce is only 4-5 percent in spite of having 45 percent of global bamboo growth.
  • Eight North Eastern Indian states account for 65 percent of the total bamboo plantation in the country, as per the National Bamboo Mission statistics.
  • As per the assessment of United Nation’s Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the bamboo business in the North-East Region alone has a potential of about Rs. 5000 crores in the next ten years.

Interesting Facts:

  • After the Hiroshima bomb in 1945, bamboo survived the atomic blast closer to ground zero better than any other flora or fauna.
  • The false ceiling at the Madrid Airport, created by British architect Richard Rogers, uses bamboo composite strips, making it naturally fire-proof. Bamboo has natural cellulose and silica, which makes it physically incombustible.
  • Bamboo can also be used for foundation piling in coastal areas where steel tends to rust.

Sources: The Guardian, The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Hindu & Firstpost

Categories: POINT IAS

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