‘Bamboo shoots can be among cheapest immunity boosters’

They contain 17 amino acids, 8 of which are essential: experts

Published - September 18, 2020 10:23 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Grass of life:  A vendor waiting for customer to sell bamboos in Guwahati on Friday.

Grass of life: A vendor waiting for customer to sell bamboos in Guwahati on Friday.

The tallest grass on earth at its smallest could be among the cheapest immunity boosters for increasing the human body’s resistance to viral attacks, experts have said.

The bamboo, considered the grass of life in the northeast, takes care of almost every requirement from birth to death. But the focus of more than 25 experts from 11 countries who converged digitally to mark ‘World Bamboo Day’ on Friday was on the nutraceutical bamboo shoot.

The term ‘nutraceutical’ is used to describe medicinally or nutritionally functional foods while bamboo shoots are the edible sprouts of the perennial grass.

“Bamboo shoots are emerging as high-value and safe edibles and growing in utility globally along with all other value-added bamboo products. The protein content in fresh bamboo shoots, considered as nutraceutical, can range between 1.49-4.04%. They also contain 17 amino acids, eight of which are essential for the human body,” said Syam Vishwanath, director of the Kerala Forest Research Institute.

Global market

The present global market of bamboo shoots is around $1,700 million. More than 3 million tonnes of bamboo shoots are consumed across the earth annually, but the shoot production and consumption in India are confined mostly to the north-eastern States.

“Value-addition which enhances storage and diversification in new-age food products like vegetable protein concentrates can enhance its market potential and consumer acceptability further,” Mr. Vishwanath said.

Kamesh Salam, executive director of South Asia Bamboo Foundation, said India had a long way to go before bamboo shoots were appreciated as a superfood. “Countries such as Philippines have worked wonders with bamboo and bamboo shoots vis-a-vis COVID-19,” he told The Hindu after a ‘festival’ to mark ‘World Bamboo Day’ that he had proposed in 2009 during his stint as the president of the World Bamboo Organisation.

Bamboo has been a key ingredient in new antimicrobial soaps and hand mists developed by Filipino scientists to fight the novel coronavirus.

According to the National Bamboo Mission, India has the highest area (13.96 million hectares) under bamboo and is the second richest country after China in terms of bamboo diversity with 136 species. The annual production of bamboo in India is 14.6 million tonnes and the bamboo-rattan industry in the country was worth ₹28,005 crore in 2017.

Data with the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) say China exports 68% of the world’s bamboo and rattan products valued at $1,112.

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