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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bamboo and Rattan of Myanmar


Myanmar has a total area of 676,577, out of which 50.8 percent is covered with forest of different types (. Statistics F.D Nov. 1998). The forest types are Tidal, Mangrove, Beach and Dune forests which are found in the south and coastal regions; Evergreen forests in areas where there are heavy rainfall; Mixed Deciduous forests along the middle mountain ranges (Bago Yoma); Deciduous Dipterocarpus forests which are also known as Indaing Forest where there are pronounced dry season; Hill evergreen and sub-alpine forests at high altitude and sub-tropical region; and dry thorn forests in place with very low rainfall. More than 20,000 of plant species are distributed among those forest types.

From time immemorial bamboos and rattans which are called "Waa" and "Kyein" respectively in Myanmar are part of every household in Myanmar . Even at present time and in big city where modern household utensils made from synthetic materials are abundant and cheap,but bamboo and rattan utensils are still to be found in the kitchen. From cradle to burial and from sport to religious ceremonies bamboo and rattan are very important. Villagers in the rural areas cannot live without bamboo and rattan.

Records of studies and reports of the bamboo and rattans resources concerning Myanmar before the world war can be found ( Ind. For. Vol. LV Nov. 1929, Vol. LV 111 1932). Actually exploitation of the resources exceed far more than that of systematic studies. Objects of survey or studies were mostly concerned with utilization and exploitation.
Bamboo and Rattan Resources
1. Bamboos are found all over Myanmar 17 genera, and about 100 species and 4 varieties are recorded (Hundley and Chit Ko Ko, 1987, revised ed.) (See Appendix I). Natural occurance of different species in various States and Division in Myanmar are given in Appendix II). Some species of Arundinaria are found at an altitude of 4000m, Bambusa at 1600 m, Cephalostachyum at 2000m, Chimonobambusa 2000m, Dendrocalamus at 1200m, Dinochloa at 1600m and Klemachloa at 2200m. (see Fig 1and 2) For taxonomical data of 14 commercially important species see Appendix III.

2. Many species of rattan are found all over Myanmar distributed in States and Divisions. There are 5 genera and 37 species recorded in Myanmar. (FD, 1987, Thein Aung, 1972, FD, Nov.1998). The genera recorded are Calamus, Korthalsia, Daemenorops, Plectocoemia, and Plectocoemiopsis. (See Appendix IV). There are some commercially important species which are identified but many are yet to be identified systemacially . Occurance of rattan in States and Divisions are given in Appendix V ( See Fig.3 also).

3. No project or study on biodiversity were undertaken up to now.

Project proposals are submitted to the authority concern for conservation of bamboo and rattan but fund to support the projects is needed.

4. Not yet.

2. Production and Resources Management

2.1 Propagation techniques

2.1.1The propagation techniques used for bamboo are as follows:

a) Rhizomes are dug up and planted.

(note. this method is used mostly by villagers)

b) Culm cuttings are also used.

c) Splitting the rhizomes of one-year-old wilding(or seedling) are used for plantation. (note . this method was developed by FRI, Yezin)(Nyan Htun & C.Doo, 1984).

2.1.2 The propagation techniques used for rattan are as follows:

a) From seeds because seeds are abundant. ( Mg Mg Lay, Htay Aung & Htun,1988)

b) Vegetatively, offsets and suckers are removed and planted. ( Htay Aung & Htun, 1995)

c) In vitro methods are not yet tested.

2.2. Nursery techniques for both Bamboo and rattan are tested but plantation methods only to a certain extent.

Culm cuttings or splitted rhizomes of wildings (seedlings) are outplanted with the start of rainy season. The spacing used for bamboo are 30 ft by 30 ft. For rattan seeds are sown in the Nursery using various media in the germination boxes are found to be successful to get planting ( Calamus sp.)stock.(Htun and Htay Aung, 1997).

Small trial plots for Leme-kyein, (N.I) Toke kyein (Calamus sp.), ye- kyein (C.floriburdus) and kyein-kha (C. viminalis) were tested and found to be successful (Unpublished).

3. Harvesting

Bamboo and rattan are harvested from the natural forest. Bamboo cutter used blades (Dah) something like machete, and at about 11/2ft. from ground. As there are three types ofbamboo in a clump, which are called Wanu (young) (about 1 year-old), Tanyin (about 2 year -old) and Wa -yint (matured) (3 year and above). Usually they cut some of the Tanyin (2 or 3 Nos.) and 3-4 Nos. of Wayint (matured). The young are left to grow with other two types or some are cut while they were at the stage of very young shoots, which of the edible bamboo species. Rattan are harvested by cutting about three feet from the ground and they are pulled down from their climbing position. About 6 feet from the tip is also cut as that portion is also useless. The plant is than cut in required length which usually for export is about 13 feet (Thein Aung, 1972).Some commercially important species are given in Appendix VI.

4. Processing and Utilization

4.1. The major products and uses of bamboo in the country, and the extent of use.

Bamboo is used as building materials in the villages. A house can be built entirely with bamboo. The fences are either with cut bamboo or with living bamboo. The major products from bamboo are houehold utensils like spoon, chopsticks, trays, tube-like containers to put in knives, spoon, etc; mats are very comman in villager=s huts; bamboo baskets; bigger size bamboo are used even as water buckets and as poles for houses, peeled bamboo are used as rope for binding packages and poles; beautiful ladies umbrellas and lacquer wares are made from bamboos. Bamboo as raw material for paper industry and chopstick industry is also gainning momentum.

4.2. The role of bamboo in housing the country

Bamboo is aptly termed as Apoor Man=s timber@ though out the tropics. Rural people through out the country cannot live without bamboo. People who can effort can use iron nails and aluminium roof but mostly a house is built with bamboo entirely. Bamboo is still used for scaffolding in modern house building. Even the material for ceiling are made from bamboo.

4.3. The state of bamboo and rattan handicrafts in the country.

As previously mentioned the best handicrafts from bamboo are : the ladies umbrellas, lacquer ware which earned much income for the country. Improved toys made from bamboo are competing imported plastic materials. Baskets with various designs are good feature in the market. Chin-lone which a ball played as a national sport, baskets and walking sticks of various shapes and forms are made from rattan. Lastly cane is used for putting the children on the right track.4. The role of bamboo in other sectors

Fishing rods are made from many species of bamboo but especially from Bambusa longispiculata, Melocanna humilis and Thyrsostachys siamensis. Fish traps of various sizes and designs are also made from bamboo. Some small streams are damned-up and water is allowed to flow through bamboo nets and the fish are trapped. Strong bamboo tubes are used for rat-traps in paddy fields. In the hilly region bamboo culms are joined together making a long water pipes. Ancient and even up to now, hunter make bows and arrows from bamboo. Culms of Cephalostachyum pergracile are used for baking gultinonus rice and when the rice is baked a membraneous film inside the bamboo culm comes out along with the rice which give a very pleasant aroma and taste.

4.5. The famous Pathein Umbrella and Myanmar lacqer wares are made from bamboos. Beautiful funitures and ladies baskets are also made from rattan.

4.6. Standard of Bamboo and Rattan used for products
Bamboo are classified according to their age. Young Bamboo (Wa- nu in Myanmar) is one-year old, Middle (or Tanyin) is two-year-old and matured (Wa-yint) is three-year-old and above). Bamboos are cut when they are matured usually, and accepted for utilization if they are 18 feet high and at the tip one-inch in diameter. Bamboo which are to be used as housing materials should be extracted in the cold season but not in the rainy season.

Rattan are also extracted during cold season and they must be free from disease and damage. The whole stem is extracted and coiled for transport or required lengths are cut in the forest for transport.

5. Markets and Socio-economics

Bamboo and Rattan play important part in the life and livelihood of people in Myanmar. People eat bamboo-shoot-preserves all the year round and sheltered under the bamboo huts and bamboo clumps in the forest.

1. The country export of bamboo is estimated at over a million in US dollars and that of rattan at over hundred thousand US$.

2. The overall number of peoples involved in the sector is in away very hard to estimate but on the other hand many of the villagers around rural Myanmar are involved.

The work load shared by men and woman in some localities is equal but in some places women have to bare heavier load of the work.

The main races and minorities are involved in Bamboo and Rattan.

The people involved are of lower income level.

3. Bamboo and Rattan are extracted by the villagers which are collected by local brokers in the villages and sold to the local markets. Then to the merchants in towns which in turn sold to the big the cities for local use or export.

4. Nil.

6 Policy and legislation

1. Bamboo and rattan are categorized under minor forest products.

2. As bamboo and rattan are abundant in the country for domestic trade and use the villagers are free to exploite. There are departmental instructions concerning extraction of bamboo and rattan. See Appendix.

3. Internal trade of bamboo and rattan is almost free with little tax payable to the government. State and division authorities controlled unreasonable cutting of bamboo and rattan.

Export of bamboo and rattan is controlled by the Forest Department Sale tax, export tax and custom duty are all applied. Minor forest products also as major forest products come under sustainable forest management. See the Forest Legislation below.

Forest Legislation

The Forest Law (1992) in line with the objectives of the Forest Policy highlights environmental and biodiversity conservation, and extended set-up of permanent forest estates (PFEs) and protected areas system (PAS). Above all, the Forest Law provides opportunities for the promotion of private sector involvement in timber trade, and decentralizes the management responsibilties. It encourages community participatory approach in managing the forest resources, particularly to satisfy the basic needs of the rural people. It demonstrates a shift from the concept of revenue generation and restriction to motivation and of management reponsibilities with the people. (Forest Department, Nov- 1998)

4. Impart not yet assessed.

5. Nil.

7 Institutional Capacity

1. Forest Department under the forest ministry of Forestry handles the bamboo and rattan business. Control extraction, taxable of the products from locality and export control of raw and finished products.

2. Cooperative societies joint ventured with the government are handling the bamboo/ rattan business, and supply to the paper mills in the country.

3. Private companies are also involved bamboo and rattan trade.

The companies buy raw materials of bamboo and rattan, and produce into household utensils, daily-use materials like baskets trays, containers, umbrellas, cigarette boxes, food carrier boxes, etc.

4. Nil

5. Nil

8. Overview and conclusion

Concerning bamboo and rattan sectors they are mostly engaged in utilization and not on scientific. Inventory on bamboo and rattan is not yet completed.

Many of the bamboo and rattan species are yet to be identified and resources-potential not yet assessed.

Research activities on bamboo and rattan are either inadequate or lacking.

Training and development programmes under Forest Research Institute, Yezin are only in the initial stages.

Extraction of bamboo for paper industry, for cottage industries or for local use are not completely recorded or controlled. And the same is true for rattan.

Cottage industries involved in Bamboo and Rattan produces are either small for economic success or methods used for production are not fine. Paper Mills are developed but supply of raw materials is not sufficient.

So the following points should be considered and the resolutions made for short term-medium term and long term programmes.

* To try and complete the inventory on bamboo and rattan resources, And also resources-potential assessed.

* Identification and systematic classification of bamboo and rattan for the whole country should be made. Many of the species are not yet identified and local names are confusing.

* Research activities such as flowering biology of bamboos and rattans, Propagation methods and nursery techniques, silviculture, plantation establishment methods, improvements and conservation be carried out.

* Training of young scientists through support from IPGRI and FORSPA started during the last one or two years. More training of that nature are needed to fill in the gaps made by retiring of the old scientists.

* Forest Research Institute, Yezin in Myanmar has a medium-large Herbarium but collection on bamboo and rattan specimens is only a few in number. So the development of bamboo Herbarium in Forest Research Institute is in initial state and needs financial as well as technical supports.

* Extraction of Bamboo and Rattan is controlled by Government State and Division Offices, But Down to earth control is difficult.

* Upgrading of cottage industries in the country is needed as well as plantations for raw materials supply are to be made constant.

9. Conclusion

Myanmar is rich in Bamboo and Rattan resources, and therefore has the attitude of "Why worry?, we have plenty." It's True up to now . Myanmar has bamboos everywhere, near the roadside and in the home gardens, in the fruit plantation and in the villages and in the forests. But these lots of bamboos and rattans should come under the scientific focus of observation. On conclusion, all sides development in Bamboo and Rattan , sectors is needed. Survey and exploration for bamboo and rattan, to identify, to classify and to assess the resources potential are mandatory. Conservation of genetic materials, propagation methods and plantation establishment techniques must be acquired, which can be achieved through activation of research on these factors by the Forest Research Institute, Yezin. Guidance and encouragement from the government and Forest Department, finical support and sharing of technical know-how among neighbouring countries, training requirement for young scientists made possible by agencies like INBAR, IPGRI, ICIMOD, FORSPA, etc. would sum up the total development of bamboo and rattan sectors in Myanmar.

Reference :
Saw Eh Dah
Training and Research Development Programme
Forest Department
Ministry of Forestry, Myanmar

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