Bamboo livelihoods business enterprise
The pilot project was supported by Development Support Agency of Gujarat (D–SAG), and aimed to increase employment and improve the economic status of tribal groups. CIBART with technical assistance from INBAR proposed and received support of from D-SAG under Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana set up a pilot in the private public partnership mode (PPP) mode to implement the pilot.

The pilot transitioned into a social enterprise that institutionalized continual and sustainable income generating activities with backward and forward linkages in the entire value chain of bamboo from nursery development, plantations at various levels, product designing and development, awareness building, branding to product marketing for the Kotwalia tribal community in Dangs and Tapi (among the 100 most backward districts in India).

CIBART's interventions have increased per capita income of the artisans from Rs. 21 per day to Rs. 200 per day, they have savings and expenditure on quality food and clothing. Children are being educated and there is visible increase of confidence in the artisans, especially women. They are empowered and have moved up on the social ladder. Artisans involved in CIBART's project now receive social recognition and do not feel socially excluded or marginalized…more

Artisans now receive social recognition and respect, they are do not feel socially excluded or marginalized. The Kotwalia community was engaged in weaving traditional bamboo utility products, mainly baskets to sell at the local level for their livelihoods. They were landless, lived on the outskirts of villages and had low education levels. They do not participate in social events, festivals, etc. Changing times and substitute plastic products were replacing bamboo utility items and affecting livelihoods. Community members, especially men, migrated to work in sugarcane fields, leaving behind their old women and children who earned a meagre income from their traditional craft bamboo basket weaving. Both, working in sugarcane fields and getting bamboo from forests for basket weaving did not generate adequate revenue to meet their needs for sustenance. This made them dependent on either an agent for bonded labour work or on middlemen to sell bamboo baskets. This reduced time for productive work.

They led unpleasant lives in temporary plastic sheds that did not have even basic amenities like electricity and sanitation. They were unable to access health facilities and education for their children. Some families even lived on their bullock carts that were used to reach migration destinations. Raw material availability: Green bamboo, the primary raw material, needed to be procured from distant forest areas and there were difficulties in collection due to forest policies. CIBART purchased poles from nearby markets and set up a bamboo bank which delivered poles to SHG households on credit.

Bamboo bank: CIBART purchased poles and set up a bamboo bank which made poles available to bamboo artisans belonging to SHGs since Forest Department policy did not allow artisans to collect poles from forest areas. The poles were made available on credit and delivered to the artisan’s home.

Homestead plantation: The concept of homestead plantation was introduced in the first year and 1,210 Kotwalia households were provided five plants each. A number of awareness meetings were organized along with meetings with the district administration, panchayats and schools. Twenty farmers adopted bamboo plantation in a cropping pattern, and 6,000 Bambusa balcooa seedlings were planted on 18 acres of mining land.

Nurseries: CIBART also developed village level nurseries and model plots on some farmers’ lands. 30 farmers planted bamboo on their boundaries. One hardening centre for tissue culture plants with a capacity of 300,000 plants per year was established in Ukai village and one nursery was established in Manpur village with a capacity of 20,000 plants per year. Training and skill enhancement: The community had expertise in weaving and CIBART facilitated their transition from only weaving to furniture making and construction structures. Two common facility centres were set up and intensive training on bamboo furniture were given. Every year two batches of artisans received intensive inputs on bamboo furniture making and over 100 trained artisans are now employed at four CFCs on a full time basis. Trainee artisans received training on handling different tools and machines; participated in designing processes and trained in every stage of furniture making. CIBART also established “village level intermediary units' for those interested artisans residing in distant villages. CIBART trained over 160 artisans in bamboo construction techniques, development of simplified technologies of bamboo testing, bamboo treatment systems, making bamboo panels and joints so that these can be done locally by using local tools and methods for various bamboo structures. Bamboo eco-tourist villages, bamboo gazebos, bamboo cottages and tree houses are some of the structural applications.

Common facility centres: CIBART has four common facility centres (CFCs). All four centres are now self supporting and include plantations for raw material. School desks and furniture have found acceptance in government schools; furniture and cottages including interiors have been completed for individuals/companies/government agencies; eco-tourist villages have been developed for the government, and a retail outlet sells handicrafts and made to order products manufactured by these centres. The CFCs at Ukai and Manpur are business enterprises which are self sustaining through orders for constructing bamboo eco-tourist villages with bamboo tree houses, gazebos and cottages with interiors of bamboo and with bamboo furniture. These CFCs are also a training hub for artisans. The CFCs at Vyara was supported by Adani Foundation and is supported by orders received from the Foundation.


Training of Trainers from KSBM
CIBART conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) residential programme for 15 master craftsmen from the Kerala State Bamboo Mission (KSBM) in its common facility centre in Ukai. The master craftsman level artisans were skilled; they use pressure vacuum treatment in products and structures made by them. Therefore, the ToT programme was for advanced level of training over a period of 15 days. Eight master craftsmen were trained in new marketable furniture making, and seven were trined in building structures and construction products.

After assessing skill gaps of the artisans, they were trained in design processes and creating components – from conceptual drawing to preparing each component – using a step-wise process for both building structures and construction products, and furniture making. The training was to help them to train artisans working in the same area when they return to Kerala, increase competitiveness and learning on new product development, and increase their product base particularly to cope with new product demands both in construction products and building structures.

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