There was a time when families of the Kallickal tribal settlement in Idukki district of Kerala used bamboo for almost everything in their homes, including utensils and furniture. But over the years, this culture waned and the villagers started using plastic. Now, in the wake of the plastic ban in the state, the village is trying to return to using bamboo.
Kallickal is popularly known as a bamboo village where plastic has minimal use, as traditionally, they have been using everything made out of bamboo. There are 72 families living in the settlement near Uppukunnu in Udumbannur grama panchayat, near Thodupuzha in Idukki. Over 95 per cent of the family members use bamboo products in their daily lives â furniture, kitchenware, baskets, mats and boxes.
When the plastic ban in the state was announced, the village decided to completely get rid of plastic items and switch back to bamboo. Today, they are not just making bamboo products for themselves, they are also marketing it and earning additional income.
Three months ago, the tribal community formed a unit named âMulagramamâ (Bamboo Village) under the state Kudumbasree unit. A total of 21 members are engaged in the production of bamboo products. Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is giving the women of the village formal training in making bamboo products.
PV Sunil, secretary of the Mulagramam project, told TNM, âWe recently put up our bamboo products at a stall as part of the Thodupuzha Karshikamela (Agricultural fest) and earned Rs 14,000. We displayed about 140 varieties of bamboo products at the stall and received good response from the public.â
Sunil explains the long process that goes into making bamboo products. âAfter cutting, bamboo is put in hot water and dried completely before making any product. For instance, a simple bamboo cup needs a period of 28 days, including the four days of drying it in the sun and five days of soaking it in hot water. This process is followed to extend the durability of the products and make them resistant to fungus or pest attack,â he said.
The price of a bamboo cup ranges from Rs 60 to 80 and can easily last up to one year.
The women tribal members also make miniature versions of bamboo baskets and mats that can be used as showpieces, said Sunil.