The 10th edition of the yearly Kerala Bamboo Fest that got under way here on Friday at the Ernakulathappan Grounds is an ensemble of craftsmanship and innovativeness drawn together from different parts of the country.

Nothing exemplifies the new initiatives more than the bamboo bicycle on show at the South Asian Bamboo Federation stall, where Kamesh Salam of the Federation and former President of World Bamboo Organisation holds forth on the benefits of the bamboo bike.

He said the bamboo bicycle held out great prospects for tourism in Kerala, which had a big flow of foreign tourists. “We are trying to keep the price low,” he said about the prototype that was on display. If the parts are sourced from within the country it would be possible to keep the cost low, he said pointing out that bamboo bicycles were popular in Africa and Vietnam.

The South Asian Bamboo Foundation planned to bring out three models of the bamboo bike, one of them being a model suited to rough terrains. “The bamboo bicycle is eco-friendly and light and if production is scaled up it can generate a lot of employment,” he said.

The Bamboo Fest is being organised by the Department of Industries in association with Kerala State Bamboo Mission and Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion (K-BIP).

Of a total of 91 participants, 61 are from outside Kerala. The largest contingents have come from Tripura and Chhattisgarh. The presence of the National Institute of Design is an added attraction at the Bamboo Fest that ends on Tuesday.

An official of K-BIP said Bamboo Fests have traditionally been the official platform provided by Kerala State Bamboo Mission for artisans and craftsmen to come together. The Bamboo Fests have also exposed the community of bamboo craftsmen, often tucked away in remote corners, to the latest developments in mechanisation and processing techniques.

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