A total of 70 culms of 10 ft height ‘muli’ bamboo is the capacity of a treatment chamber on an average Credit: EastMojo Image

Agartala: In a move to promote bamboo-made products with durability, Tripura Forest Research Centre for Livelihood Extension (FRCLE) has designed a vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI) plant, said Pawan K Kaushik, scientist forest and head of FRCLE.

Speaking with EastMojo, Kaushik said that the machine was designed with an aim to protect bamboos from bacteria, fungi and other insects and use them as cane to make furniture and implements within the state.

Quotation for procuring a VPI machine from various agencies was called, which showed a VPI costing for an arm and leg about Rs 5 to 6 lakh for each set which was impossible with the limited budget provision.

One rotation takes around 2-3 hours based on species of the bamboo, while the chemical concentration used is 8% for each rotation

“When these financial constraints triggered the minds of FRCLE, with support from TBM we decided to modify the design with a cost of Rs 1.27 lakh. The VPI was crafted nine months back. While two persons are engaged at the plant for operating the machine,” Kaushik said.

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The main gear of this visionary idea led to design and promotion of low cost earthquake resilient bamboo houses and establishing community based micro-enterprise operations with VPI machines for escalating the durability of bamboo for producing cane handicrafts.

The FRCLE, Agartala developed the first machine at its headquarters in Gandhigram last year. The project was supported by the national bamboo mission (NBM) under Tripura bamboo mission (TBM). Later, two more machines were installed in Barkathali in West Tripura and Machmara under North Tripura district.

Speaking about the functioning of the machine, Pawan said that a total of 70 culms of 10 feet height ‘muli’ bamboo is the treatment chamber’s capacity on an average.

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“Similarly, 60 culms of 10 feet height ‘Kanak Kaich’ bamboo, 35 culms of 10 feet height ‘mirtinga’ bamboo, 25 culms of 10 feet height barak bamboo and 30 culms of 10 feet height ‘betu’ or ‘bum’ bamboo are being treated. One rotation takes around 2-3 hours based on species of the bamboo, while the chemical concentration used is 8% for each rotation,” Kaushik added.

He also said that with the use of the VPI plant, the scope for employment generation will increase in the state. The proposed kind of community based micro-enterprise will create employment in successive stages of the value chain, which is bamboo harvesting, transportation and machine operating, Kaushik said.

He also said that entrepreneurs can opt for establishing bamboo handicraft making enterprises using the treated bamboo which gets durability, also reducing the pressure on bamboo forest which is now extensively harvested.

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