Bamboo has played an important part in the lives of the people of Assam. It has been an integral part of the cultural, social and economic traditions of the State, and is an important component of the wealth of Assam. Bamboo is everywhere in its presence in North East and almost every rural house hold in the region holds a few bamboo clumps in the backyard. The region has enormous potential for cultivation of bamboo which was hitherto much unorganized. The Barak valley consisting of 3 districts viz. Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj is an area where bamboo forms an important constituent of the economy.
It grows in natural forests, and is cultivated in homesteads, groves and on private plantations. It is utilized in many ways, for housing, fencing, functional articles, agricultural implements, basketry, and even fuel and food. People possess traditional skills of working with the material, and knowledge of the cultivation and management of bamboo. Rattan is also an important natural material for the State of Assam. Building on traditional patterns of usage, it has evolved to become the basis for many artisans and craftsperson’s working on cane craft products for the market.
In Assam the major use of bamboo is paper manufacture by Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. which functions through its units in Panchgram, Hailakandi district and Nagaon. Despite its versatile utilities, bamboo in India is currently faced with a number of problems, especially within forest area, such as poor management, low productivity over exploitation of the available stock, gregarious flowering, etc. There is also increasing pressure on forest areas for procurement of bamboo as raw material for industrial uses.
Bamboo is very essential not only to build cottages and other domestic materials of rural folks but also to maintain the equilibrium of environment. In view of its demands in day-to-day life bamboo is cultivated in almost every home of most of the rural people who live in a high lands in Assam. Assam has the highest concentration of bamboo having high potential for commercialization. Bamboo is the best natural engineering material on this planet. India's 64% and world's 20% growing stock of bamboo grows in NE India.
Bamboo cultivation may also be profitable in rural area and the rising demand of bamboo in the world, the centre has currently taken up an ambitious scheme called ‘bamboo mission' in order to build up a well-organised bamboo cultivation in rural area. The Assam Government has also got a huge amount in the name of the scheme. The alert section of people in this area have demanded of the government to provide adequate training and fund to the farmers under the scheme so that wide bamboo cultivation can be initiated in the Char-Chapori area.
The Bodoland Bamboo Development Board (BBDB), Kokrajhar, and International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), Beijing, recently held conference at the hall of BTC Secretariat for establishment of a bamboo shoot processing centre at Central Institute of Technology (CIT), Kokrajhar. Bamboo, the green gold of the North-East India, is widely cultivated in the BTC and the existing area of bamboo plantation under non-forest area is about 14,000 hectares and existing cultivable area is about 12,000 hectares in the BTC.