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China to help Tripura create forest-based industries

business Updated: Aug 19, 2007 10:39 IST
Chinese delegation

A Chinese delegation will soon visit Tripura to ascertain ways to help create forest-based industries and employment for tribal cultivators in the northeastern state.

"A delegation of the Bamboo Engineering Research Centre (BERC) of the Nanjing Forestry University would visit the state by October to finalise the mode of technology transfer and volume of financial assistance," Tripura Forest and Tribal Welfare Minister Jitendra Chowdhury told IANS.

An Indian delegation led by Chowdhury recently visited China to seek technical and financial assistance from the Beijing-based International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO).

The minister said that in November 2006, the 41st council session of ITTO held in Japan approved funding worth over $48,000 to the project aimed at sustainable and multi-purpose forestry to settle the tribal, shifting cultivators of Tripura by providing viable economic activities.

"Once the project with Chinese assistance starts, it would open up opportunities of bilateral cooperation between the Tripura government, entrepreneurs and Chinese bamboo industries," Chowdhury said.

He added: "The Indian delegation has discussed the possibility of mutual cooperation between Chinese industries and the Tripura government. It was impressed with the possibilities of bilateral cooperation with industries in Shanghai, Nanjing and Anji areas."

China is a leader in the field of bamboo utilisation and value addition, and has captured more than 90 per cent of the world bamboo trade.

In India, bamboo covers over 10 million hectares of forestlands, with Tripura and the other northeastern states having the maximum bamboo resources.

"The Indian delegation also held talks with the Chinese authorities about the shifting cultivators in Kunming (capital of Yunnan province) and the action plan for permanently settling them," Chowdhury added.

According to the forest department, more than 28,000 tribal families still practice shifting cultivation in Tripura - locally called 'Jhum' cultivation.

"The government is now looking at arranging alternative livelihood for the forest dwelling communities through sustainable forest management. For this, it was decided to explore the experience gained by China and other such countries and derive a suitable action plan based on their experiences," said Chowdhury, who is a Marxist tribal leader.

Aid had earlier come in for Tripura from Japan and Germany as well.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) had agreed to provide Rs 3.7 billion (over $89 million) as soft loan for an ecological conservation project.