In some states including Uttar Pradesh, National Bamboo Mission, which was launched in 2007-08 to increase income of the growers, failed miserably and that led to renaming of the Mission by the Centre. Now National Bamboo Mission renamed as National Agro-Forestry & Bamboo Mission (NABM) is being implemented as per the set objectives and targets of the Mission.
As per available reports 3,61,791 hectare area have been covered in forest and non-forest land, 91,715 hectare taken up for improvement of existing stock for higher productivity (forest & non-forest areas) under the Mission against targets of 3,62,848 ha., 69,410 hectare respectively.
In a written reply in Parliament, Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala said that under the Mission, 108 numbers of markets (Bamboo wholesale & retail markets near villages) have been established for providing marketing avenues to bamboo farmers for their raw bamboo as well as finished products. Besides, efforts are being made to popularize bamboo products through participation in domestic/national/international trade fairs, he added.
Under the Mission, the Centre had allocated nearly Rs 24 crore in 2016-17 and released Rs 16.89 crore. States such as Uttar Pradesh failed to get any allocation due to failure in implementing the Mission. For 2017-18, the Centre has earmarked Rs 14.62 crore and so far released Rs 2.27 crore to the States under the Mission.
Rupala said that under the Mission, steps have already been taken and are being taken to provide assistance to farmers/bamboo growers for nursery establishment, plantations in non-forest area, imparting training for preparation of nurseries & bamboo plantations, establishing of bamboo markets for farmer products, etc.
The multi-objective Mission was launched to promote growth of bamboo, developing new varieties, giving impetus to research, promoting bamboo handicraft, raising nurseries, managing pest and disease in the plant, increase income of bamboo growers, develop marketing network for bamboo products and making access to raw material easier for artisans besides others.
Another issue, pertaining to Goods and Service Tax (GST), surfaced recently. The bamboo producers raised concerns over the tax rate at which their item is placed under the newly implemented GST.
Under the GST, bamboo mattings are placed under the 12 per cent tax slab, the mat making industry raised fears that the high tax rate would impact the industry as earlier the cane and bamboo sector were exempted from VAT for the last 12 years.
It is admitted that the workforce that is involved in making of the bamboo products come from a weak section and a higher tax rate would adversely impact the lives of these workers. While bamboo matting attract a 12 per cent tax rate, bamboo plywood is placed under 18 per cent slab in the GST.
The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises is likely to take up the issue of GST rate with the government and GST Council.