Bamboo In Gods Own Country
In Kerala, 28 species of bamboo are found to occur. The main species found in Kerala are Bambusa bambos, Ochlandra travancorica (OT), Dendrocalamus strictus etc. Kerala has a large number of (around 11) types of thin walled bamboos called reeds (Ochlandra genera) which are used mainly for weaving purposes by the traditional artisans. Exotic varieties like Dendrocalamus giganteus, Dendrocalamus brandisii are also cultivated by farmers in areas like Waynad district. Bamboos from the Kerala forest are being supplied mainly to the pulp and rayon units under concessional rates. Reed bamboo (O.T) is supplied to the artisans through the State Bamboo Corporation.
A unique feature of the Kerala bamboo scene is that 67.3 % of the extracted bamboo comes from home gardens rather than from the forests.
The weaving sector artisans around Ankamaly region is supported by the Kerala State Bamboo Corporation. It is estimated that there are about a lakh people in the state dependent on bamboo for their livelihood. Recent data from the panchayats indicate that from the early seventies onwards there has been a great drain in the number of artisans from the sector to semi skilled and unskilled jobs in the tertiary sectors like construction etc.