Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala, 14 Oct :International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to improving the social, economic and environmental benefits of bamboo and rattan. INBAR connects a global network of partners from the government, private and not-for-profit sectors in over 50 countries to define and implement a global agenda for sustainable development through bamboo and rattan.
Bamboo is a grass which belongs to cereal crops family and is an equally valuable and generous source of vegetable foodstuff. It is the growing shoot and not the ripened seed grain that is eaten. Bamboo has over 70 genera of reputedly 1500 species almost all over the world. Its woody stems called culms can have a mature size ranging from 100 mm to 36 metres with individual culms growing up to 30 cm in diameter. It is also used in housing material, furniture and other items.
Rattan is a climbing palm with long, thin and jointed pliable stem. It has roughly six hundred species of palms, is a native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia. Most rattans are distinct from other palms in having slender stems 2–5 cm diameter with long internodes between the leaves. They are also superficially similar to bamboo, but distinct because the stems are solid, rather than hollow, and also need support where as bamboo can grow on its own. Rattans have been known to grow up to hundreds of metres long. Almost 70% of the world’s rattan population exists in Indonesia- Borneo, Celebes and Sumbawa islands. The rest of the world’s supply comes from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
In India an estimated 8.96 million ha. forest area contains bamboo. It is found to grow practically all over the country. India is second richest country in terms of bamboo’s genetic diversity. There are 124 indigenous and exotic species, under 23 genera, found naturally and/or under cultivation. In India, the present usage of bamboo is to the tune of Rs. 2043 crore.
At global level, Bamboo and rattan are integral to the lives of up to 1.5 billion people, roughly a quarter of the present world population. For many of them life is a constant struggle against poverty and deprivation. Bamboo and rattan provide them with a sustainable way out of poverty, a stable source of income for a growing range of micro, small and medium sized enterprises. Opportunities to use bamboo and rattan to improve people’s lives along with conserving environment are still underdeveloped, but it has enormous potential which deserves increased attention and support. There are an increasing number of ways bamboo can be used and an increasing number of products that can be made from it, in particular to complement high value timber-wood products. Therefore, Bamboo and rattan are ideal resources for development that integrates poverty reduction and environmental sustainability, and INBAR is ideally placed to foster sustainability through the essence of INBAR Mission, which is to protect the global environment, eradicate poverty and promote industry through enhancing international cooperation in bamboo and rattan resource conservation and sustainable utilization.
The Council, the supreme governing body of INBAR, is composed of representatives of INBAR member countries. Upto now, INBAR has 34 member countries which include thirteen in Africa, ten in Asia, ten in America and one in Oceania. All major policies and decisions of INBAR are approved by the Council. As of September 2006, 34 countries had acceded to INBAR’s Establishment Agreement — Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, The Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Uganda, Venezuela and Vietnam. With the exception of Canada, all of these countries have major bamboo and/or rattan resource bases, and a considerable population of people living in conjunction with them, who use bamboo and rattan to improve their lives and livelihoods.
INBAR is running three main thematic programmes at present. They are Environmental Sustainability, Livelihood and Economic Development and Trade Development.Along with this four technical programmes are also handled and they are Global Bamboo Housing Programme, Global Marketing Initiative, Global Rattan Programme and the Non-Timber Forest Products Partnership Programme.
There are an increasing number of ways bamboo can be used and an increasing number of products that can be made from it, in particular to complement high value timber-wood products. Bamboo is also important in environmental conservation and for rehabilitating degraded land. Rattan is already a valuable resource. Its value continues to rise in domestic as- well-as international market.
Leading scientists from around the world met to explore the exciting opportunities rattan and bamboo offered as resources to improve the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. This was way back in 1979 and the initiation was taken by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
IDRC put bamboo and rattan on its research agenda and began to develop an informal network to bring together the expertise of the researchers and practitioners scattered across the globe. From 1985 to 1988 more than 100 specialists got together in a workshop to form a formal institute to co-ordinate bamboo and rattan research and development. In 1993 INBAR was formed as part of IDRC. Its aim is to improve the contribution bamboo and rattan make to rural livelihoods and to investigate the role of bamboo and rattan in tropical forest conservation. The United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) provides funds to IDRC for INBAR’s socio-economic research.
A group consisting of IFAD, IDRC, the MS Swaminathan Institute, Indian Sustainable Development Organisation and the Chinese Government established INBAR as an independent organization in 1995. China offered to host its headquarters. Signing ceremony was held on 6 November attended by the nine founding members-Bangladesh, Canada, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Peru, the Philippines and Tanzania. Observers from Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Thailand attended. In ten years INBAR membership grew from nine to 34 member countries.
INBAR Is now an intergovernmental organization with four funding partners-the governments of China, Canada, Netherlands and IFAD. INBAR’s vision of sustainable use of bamboo and rattan has contributed towards people’s livelihoods and their environment.
The 6th Council Session of International Network for Bamboo and Rattan) INBAR is for the first time being held outside China. Ministry of Environment and Forests, is hosting the event at New Delhi where representatives from 34 member countries will participate. The session is accepted to provide guidance for future thrust of INBAR activities.