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The ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (IISWC), Dehradun organized a six-day study tour cum exposure visit programme on Bamboo Allometrics, Hydrology and environmental Metrics for the scientists from Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya from August 21-26, 2023. On 22 August, while inaugurating the function, Dr. Charan Singh, Officiating Director, highlighted the work done by the institute for rehabilitation of degraded lands. He discussed the different bamboo-based technologies developed by the institute for degraded ravine lands and sloping lands of western Himalayas. He also emphasized on future collaborations with KEFRI and INBAR. Dr. R.K. Singh emphasized the importance of conserving green and blue water while efficiently utilizing grey water. Dr. JMS Tomar, Head Plant Science Division stressed the importance of agroforestry and fruit trees in resource conservation and providing livelihood security. He also highlighted the work done by the Plant Science Division in TSP and SCSP programme. Dr. Gopal Kumar highlighted the technologies developed by Soil Science and Agronomy Division, which can play an important role in enhancing productivity of degraded lands. On this occasion, Dr. James Ndufa, Chief Scientist and Incharge of Forest Biodiversity and Environment Management, KEFRI provided a briefing on the state of land degradation in Kenya, revealing that 62% of the land is currently degraded and an additional 21% is considered to be extremely degraded. He emphasized the potential of bamboo as a tool for rehabilitating degraded lands in Kenya and discussed the efforts being made by the government to promote bamboo. Dr. Stanley Nadir, Senior Research Scientist and Deputy Regional Director, emphasized on joint working of IISWC and KEFRI in promoting bamboo research programme.

While welcoming the delegates, Dr. Rajesh Kaushal briefed them about the objective of the study tour. He apprised that the study tour cum exposure visit is a part of South-South, North-South, and triangular collaboration across Asia, Africa and Latin America for promoting the resource conservation aspects of bamboo. He also thanked INBAR for choosing the Institute for capacity building of African partners.

During the visit, delegates were given the opportunity to explore the Institute Museum, Central Laboratory, and Library, guided by Dr. Charan Singh, Dr. Trisha Roy, and Dr. Rama Pal. The delegates witnessed the various exhibits and technologies in the Institute Museum, providing them with insights into the rich history and achievements of the institute. Additionally, the delegates were able to observe the state-of-the-art equipment present in the Central Laboratory, showcasing the Institute’s commitment to research and innovation in their field. Furthermore, the delegates had the chance to access the extensive collection of books, journals, and other academic resources in the Institute Library, demonstrating the Institute’s commitment to providing a conducive learning and knowledge dissemination environment.

On 23 August, Dr. M. Sankar, OIC Farm, conducted a visit to Research Farm Selaqui where delegates were exposed to demonstrations and experiments related to productivity enhancement and resource conservation in agriculture crops. Dr. Deepak and Mr. UC Tewari apprised delegates to different monitoring devices for measuring runoff and soil loss. Dr. A.C. Rathore and Dr. J. Jayaprakash demonstrated various project activities in Plant Science Division, where delegates were exposed to different agroforestry and horticulture-based experiments on degraded river bed lands. Dr. Rajesh Kaushal conducted the visit to INBAR sponsored project on bamboo where he shared his experiences and insights gained from working on allometrics, hydrology and environmental metrics aspect. The methodology for the data collection on productivity, soil erosion, water recharge, nutrient cycling and ecosystem services in context to resource conservation in bamboo was also discussed in detail. Dr. JMS Tomar and Dr. Anupam Barh emphasized the significance of quality planting material and showcased their work on germplasm collection and a Hi-tech nursery dedicated to bamboo propagation. The delegates also had the opportunity to visit Aspire Oral Health Care Ltd, where Sh. Murtuza Motiwala demonstrated the commercial production of bamboo toothbrushes and other bamboo-based products.

 On the 24th August, visit to Forest Research Institute Dehradun was coordinated by Dr. Vibha Singhal and Dr. Ajay Thakur where delegates had the opportunity to observe research on the tissue culture and biotechnological aspects of bamboo. Additionally, the delegates visited one of the oldest herbariums of FRI, where they were introduced to various preservation techniques and key identification features of different bamboo species. The delegates also learned about vegetative propagation, preservation, and bamboo seasoning techniques. Furthermore, they were shown the work on bamboo engineering and the production of paper and pulp.

On the 25th August, the participants had the opportunity to explore the technology behind manufacturing chopsticks and bamboo straws, presented by Sh. Jai Panuli, Director of Jash Manufacture Industry Pvt. Ltd. Furthermore, the delegates visited a commercial bamboo plantation in village Naukragarant, Buggawala, Haridwar block, where Sh. Gurvinder Singh and Ms. Ajeet Kaur maintain Bambusa balcooa, Bambusa vulgaris, and Bambusa tulda species. A visit to the community processing center, managed by Uttarakhand Bamboo and Fiber Development Board (UBFDB), was organized by Sh. Dinesh Joshi, Manager of UBFDB. During this visit, the delegates had the opportunity to observe various machines used for bamboo processing.

On the 26th August, the delegates were escorted to a local bamboo market to observe the current market mechanism for bamboo. During this visit, they had the privilege of meeting Sh. S.T. S. Lepcha, the former PCCF of Uttarakhand State Forest Department and former CEO of Uttarakhand Bamboo and Fiber Development Board (UBFDB). In-depth discussions were conducted, covering a range of topics including industrial development, market dynamics, and policy matters.

In concluding remarks, Dr. Rajesh Kaushal expressed his gratitude to all the delegates for their visit. He also extended his appreciation to the Kenya Government, Mr. J. Durai (Director, Global Programmes), Mr. Selim Reza (Regional Programme Manager), Ms. Sangeeta (Regional Director, South Asia), Mr. Anand Subramani (Finance Officer), ICAR and INBAR for their support. Dr. Kaushal also emphasized on future collaborations to enhance bamboo research in India and Kenya.

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