Bamboo, cane and murta plantation in Bangladesh

--Md. Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Conservator of Forest Central Circle Department of Forest

10. Sofiul Alam Chowdhuty

Among the minor forest products of the country, Bamboo, Cane and Murta are considered as valuable and important forest commodities in Bangladesh. It also plays an important role in the rural economy of the country. The people especially, the rural people use these minor forest produce for various purposes. About 90% needs of construction materials for village houses are being meeting from these minor forest produce in the rural areas. Moreover, they are popularly used in making furniture, mat and handicrafts in the  rural areas also being used in pulp and paper mills as raw materials. In fact bamboo is popularly known as the “Wood for Poor”. By ensuring the supply of these raw materials, socioeconomic development of the village could be uplifted. As cottage industry is a labor-intensive sector, this could generate lot of employment in the rural areas.

With the increase in population, the demand for these minor forest resources have increased manifold. In Fact, the demand is higher than the supply. As a result, resource base has been decreasing day by day. To halt this process, we need further intervention in this arena for establishing plantation of those resources where active participation of the local people is necessary to ensure success of the program.

In the recent past, the Forest Department has convinced itself towards people-oriented forestry programs and has recognized the role of local community groups in addressing the problems of forest degradation. In fact, in the new Forest Policy, people’s participation in the management of forest resources has been recognized. In our 20 years long Forestry Master Plan we also incorporated this concept.

Bamboo Plantation

Bamboo, one of the Earth’s oldest and the most precious construction materials, has played a major role throughout the tropical and sub-tropical belts of the Globe particularly of Asia, South America and Africa. Some extraordinary characteristics of Bamboo such as rapid growth, resistance, lightness, flexibility, malleability and visual charm have made it very useful to people.

Bamboo has many inherent qualities, among which the following are remarkable

w         Fast growing plant and harvestable within 4 to 5years.

w         Highly elastic, resistance capacity against strong winds and springs back when the stress is over,

w         Straight and cylindrical stem;

w         Light, hollow, but hard and strong;

w         Possesses long fiber with maximum amount of cellulose (2.3-3.6 mm is average                     range for bamboos of Bangladesh); and,

w         Excellent splitting ability in straight lines.

This plant has many uses. It is used both in the construction of rural houses and agricultural purposes as well as musical instruments, furniture also used in religious ceremonies. It is also used as an ingredient of interior or exterior decoration and as fishing and navigation tools. It has food and pharmaceutical values. Thus, bamboo is a vital commodity for rural communities and its socio-economic growths. Even with the advent of modern and more useful materials, we hope bamboo will survive as a raw material for artistic works, furniture making, craftworks, decorations, and landscape designing.

Unlike other members of the grass family, bamboo is unique. Bamboos are often called giant woody grasses. The plant generally has more than one tall aerial shoot (culms), each shoot has distinct nodes, and hollow inter nodes. The culms originate from the complex underground rhizome system having a prominent sheathing organ at each node. The culms are the main parts of a bamboo utilized for various uses.

Bangladesh is a largely flat country, consisting of the plains created by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghan rivers. It is subject to monsoon climate with heavy rains between June and September, pronounced dry season between November and March. Bamboo grows extensively throughout Bangladesh both in the plain area that is subject to flooding during the monsoon, and in the hilly areas. Bamboo blight has only been observed in village bamboos. These, like forest bamboos, and pachymorph (clamp forming), but differ from them as their genera generally have tall, thick-walled culms, whereas forest species (dominated by Melocanna baccifera), are smaller with thinner walls.

Village bamboos are usually grown around a house in a village on a small patch of land above normal flood level; larger groves are sometimes established (known as bamboo baris), but are relatively uncommon. village  bamboo patches is widely dispersed and not concentrated in particular areas.

Bamboo plantation: Planting and Maintenance Techniques

(a)        The plantation will be raised with seedling raised in pots following popularly                        known as Konchi Kalam techniques.

(b)        Seedlings will plant at the spacing of 4.50m X4.50m and thus 494 seedlings                        will be accommodated per hectare.

(c)        Weeding will be carried out at the frequency of (i Three times in 1 year old                         plantation, ii) Two times in 2 years old plantation.

(d)       In one-year-old plantation maximum 20% vacancy filling can be done.

(e)        Fertilizer will be applied in One-Year-old plantation.

Cane plantation

Cane species: Cane has ll categories (Gon). The broadest category is calamus. There are 370 species exists under the calamus category. In Bangladesh 6 species of            calamus are available. Those are: (1) Calamus tenuous, (2) Calamus guraba, (3)    Calamus viminalis vr. parciculatus, (4) Calamus latifolus, (5) Daemonorops             Jenkinsianus and (6) Calamus sp.

Cane known as Rattan is a climbing palms that are being utilizing for centuries in several Asian countries. In recent years, the demand for rattan products and for furniture in particular, has increased considerably. This is mainly because of its growing export market. At present, the demand for good quality rattan exceeds the supply and the opportunities for increasing the economic benefits of this renewable resource are excellent in several countries of Southeast Asia.

But at present some areas of the country the supply of rattan is diminishing at a faster rate and there is no reliable information about the growing stock because rattan is not included in forest surveys carried out to estimate the volume of standing commercial timber though rattan may be rated as most important forest product after timber.

Today, the rattan industry remains very much a part of the village or rural life, and rightly so. However, no accurate data are available on employment generated by the rattan industry, it can generate huge employment. Thus,   it has a great contribution to creating employment opportunities in the rural areas.

Cane plantation: Planting and Maintenance Techniques

(a)        The plantation with be raised with seedling raised in pots.

(b)        Seedlings will be planted following the spacing of 3m x 3m and thus 1111nos.

of seedling can accommodated per Ha of land.

(c)        Weeding will be carried out at the frequency of  (i Three times in 1 year old                       plantation, ii) Two time in 2 years old plantation.

(d)       In one-year -old plantation, maximum 20% vacancy filling can be done.

(e)        Fertilizer will be applied to one year-old plantation.

Murta Plantation

Murta is a herb. It is also considered as a grass. It has a wide range of use in the rural areas. In preparing ‘Sheetal Pati’, People are using Murta. These ‘Sheetal Pati’ have both home and foreign markets. It grows well in marshy land. In our country, greater Sylhet districts are suitable fro Murta plantation. As the marshy land considered as the suitable for raising murta thus it has envisaged apart from the Sylhet areas, this plantation also can be plant up in marshy foothills of denuded hills.

Murta Plantation: Plantation and Maintenance Techniques

(a)        Seedlings will be planted following the spacing of 2.50m X 2.50m, thus 1600 nos. of seedling can accommodated per Ha of land.

(b)        Weeding will be carried out at the frequency of (i) Three times in 1 year old                       plantation (ii) Two times in 2 years old plantation.

(c)        In one-year-old plantation, maximum 20%vacancy filling will be done.

(d)       Fertilizer will be applied in one year old plantation.

Among the minor forest products of the country, Bamboo, Cane and Murta are considered as very important forest commodities in Bangladesh. So for the development of these products Forest Department has completed project ‘Development of Bamboo, Cane and Murta plantation project’ during the period 1998-99 to 2005-2006 and another project of this kind is being implemented for the period 2009-2010 to 2013-2014.