Tripura is known to be one of the major bamboo producing states in India. Referred to as ‘poor man’s timber’ – bamboo is intimately interwoven in the socio-cultural and economic fabric of the people of Tripura. Around 21 different species of bamboos grow in the state, where 2.46 lakh families have been traditionally engaged in bamboo related vocations. Other than handicrafts, one major use of bamboo in Tripura is the making of bamboo sticks that are used in incense or agarbattis.
With a vision for building up bamboo based economy in a holistic manner and transform Tripura into the hub of bamboo based sustainable micro, small and medium industry, various training programs are organised by the Tripura Bamboo Mission throughout the state. One such program was setup at Khashchowmhuni village under Sepahijala district, where several rural women, under self-help group, took training in bamboo handicraft making.
“We have lots of bamboo in and around our house, which we did not know how to use, except for some fencing work. Then we got some training from the Tripura Bamboo Mission and started making handicraft items at our houses and also started selling them. This has benefited us a lot. Without any problem, we have been working for last seven years, looking after our families and educating our children. We hope to continue this in future,” said Jayanti Das, Artisan.
The main part of the training was capacity building and skill development. Value addition through technology transfer with new designs of handicraft making were organised especially for the traditional artisans, where the majority were rural housewives. North Eastern Council came forward for funding the projects, approving Rs 441.25 lakh for handicraft sector, with 10 percent contribution from the Tripura government.
“I am engaged with this business; I collect these items and supply them at Charilam and places like Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai and other states. I collect them from artisans in the rural areas. I make good profit and my family runs on this business,” said Mithun Debnath, Collector. Most importantly, market linkages were created through cluster based approach or self-help-groups in handicraft sector. Today most of these rural women are self-employed entrepreneurs and lend a helping hand to their husbands’ earning to run the families better.