Bamboo is an economically viable grass with every part namely culm, rhizome, root, leaves and young shoots used for culinary, medicinal, domestic and industrial purposes. In Tripura especially, 21 known species of bamboo are grown in over 3,500 sq. km area of forests and planned forestry.
The current state and central government have done an outstanding job of first amending the problematic 90-year-old law that had categorized bamboo as tree to grass and undertaking several ambitious projects to increase bamboo cultivation on riversides, roadsides and fallow lands, create, design and market value-added products of bamboo and provide steady employment to the rural sector of the state.
One type of bamboo known locally as muli bamboo or sweet bamboo is organically grown across the state and preferred by locals for its sweet taste. Muli bamboo shoots are soft, edible, rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals like phosphorous, calcium, zinc, magnesium and copper, low on fat and highly recommended to treat diabetes and cancer.
A truly innovative product prepared from its young shoots is the newly launched bamboo cookies. These amazing cookies are highly sought-after in the North East and in the neighbouring nations of Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Japan, China and Taiwan.
As bamboo shoots are perishable, they are first boiled and made into pulp, mixed with organically grown wheat flour, butter and other ingredients and baked. They have the typical bamboo shoot aroma with a hint of bitterness. These cookies are wrapped in the traditional Tripura risa which will also promote the excellent quality handwoven material and attire of the local communities.
Bamboo shoots have for long been regarded as an immunity booster and the introduction of these cookies prepared from crushed and processed bamboo shoots will surely boost its cultivation, empower the rural economy and encourage artisanal expertise among the youths.
This project of the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Agartala has already made a splash in the domestic market and with more curious buyers abroad, is destined to rake in good revenue in the coming years.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)