Bamboo products worth Rs. 6,505 crore were being produced in the country in a year, said Colelctor C. Munianathan here on Thursday.

Inaugurating a seminar on bamboo cultivation organised by the National Bamboo Mission, he said that various handicrafts could be produced using bamboo. Taking into consideration the economic importance of bamboo, Government was advocating cultivation of bamboo in the plains. It could be raised as an alternative crop wherever there was water scarcity.

Farmers of Tiruvarur district could exploit the marketing potential of bamboo. They could raise the crop in their gardens and fields. Bamboo was widely cultivated in the north-eastern States such as Assam and many handicrafts were being produced with it. Bamboo belonged to a grass family and once cultivated could give yield for 50 years. In olden days, during famine, people used to eat bamboo rice, the Collector said.

Bamboo shoots were also used for cooking. Cloth was also produced using bamboo.

Speakers at the seminar said that there were 1,400 species of bamboo in the world. Out of them, 136 species were in India. Thorn-less bamboo was popular among people. The species popularised by the forest department in Tamil Nadu are Bamboosa vulgaris, Bamboosa neuton and Bamboosa doldo. When properly cultivated, bamboo could give a yield of 40 tonnes per acre in a year. In Tamil Nadu, it was cultivated on 3,101 square kilometres of land. Production was 1,154 tonnes a year. Bamboo could be cut in four years of planting. Every two years, it could be cut.

Rajasekaran, Forest Extension Officer, Madurai; K. Ilangovan, Deputy Director, Horticulture; Selvam, Forest Extension Officer, Tiruvarur; and Muthu, Forest Ranger, Tiruvarur, spoke. An exhibition of bamboo products also formed part of the seminar.