Agartala: A unique fancy bamboo handcrafted utility model of bottles from the hands of artisans of Tripura is trending on social media. On June 24, when an Indian Forest Services (IFS) official, Prasada Rao Vaddarapu took to Twitter announcing readiness to take orders, the tweet went viral.
Eight months ago, the 2010-batch IFS officer, currently serving as Managing Director of Tripura Rehabilitation Plantation Corporation Limited, undertook an initiative to use locally-available resources to usher socio-economic self-reliance of the Jhum Cultivation tribal farmers of Tripura.
Prasada Rao says, “After thorough research on various types of bamboo of the northeast, I decided on a particular species, which is only available in Tripura (could not name it out due to trade secrets). It took eight months for us to build a prototype following which we started mass production. For the bamboo drinking ware project, we trained ten craftsmen who in turn trained another 1000 craftsmen for the process under the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDVK) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM)schemes.”
This product doesn’t involve plastic and has an inner lining of either steel, copper, or glass, as per the consumer’s preference, to the bamboo encasement.
Explaining the USP of the product Prasada Rao said, “If the bamboo comes in contact with water in a closed container for long it may develop fungus. To prevent that, a lining has been used to make it leak-proof. Further, the resources for inner lining are also locally sourced. It should not be apprehended that the addition of the inner lining may add to the weight of the bottle. It is completely portable.”
This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI) and Forest Research Center of Livelihood Extension at Agartala and convergence with SS Bamboowala Private Limited for market linkage.
“We are looking into branding, marketing, sales, and customer support of the product and are expecting to start the selling and distribution in bulk and retail by the third week or end of July. We are receiving a lot of inquiries from all across India. As of now, there are more than 1000 orders. There are bulk buyers, individual buyers, and export traders as well,” said Swattik Chakraborty, head of The Bamboowala.
He further mentioned, “There will be two basic classifications of the product: Bamboo Copper Bottle (1 ltr., 750 ml., 500ml.) and Bamboo flask (500 ml., 750ml). However, initially, we will be starting with the 1 ltr. Bamboo Copper Bottle & 500 ml Bamboo Flask. The 1 ltr. of Bamboo Copper Bottle weighs between 350-400 gms. Pricing is yet to be announced publicly.”
According to reports by the Tripura government, bamboo is popularly known as green gold and poor man’s timber and can generally adapt to a wide range of climatic and edaphic conditions.
This North-Eastern state represents 28% of the country’s bamboo stock and has 2397 sq. km of bamboo forests forming about 23% geographical area of the state.
Prasada Rao further clarified, “Bamboo is a grass and can be vegetatively propagated through rhizome planting, branch cutting, culm cutting, and even through tissue culture. Hence, it disqualifies the notion of deforestation.”
Buoyed by the social media response, Prasada Rao said that this product shall bring laurels to the state along with foreign exchange through export.