The incentive to organize this training course cum workshop arose as a response to consolidate the ongoing research in different Asian countries on bamboo conservation and genetic improvement. Also an opportunity was created for many of the researchers from various Asian countries to visit Yunnan Province in China and particularly Xishuangbanna Botanic Garden where an extensive bamboo germplasm collection is maintained that represents Indo Malayan, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and East Asian bamboo species that reveal many intergeneric and interspecific variations. The collection also includes some of the biggest bamboos of the world. Many of the bamboo species present are yet to be scientifically identified which also is the situation in most of the Asian countries.
The 9 day programme was conducted at Kunming Institute of Botany, Southwest Forestry College, Kunming, and Xishuangbanna Botanic Garden. The thirty participants from eleven Asian countries included some of the experts in various fields as well as active researchers. All of them had an opportunity to interact among themselves and with some senior researchers in China.
China is the leading country in the world where bamboo is extensively used, replacing timber, to produce various industrial products, furniture, handicrafts and others besides growing bamboo species that produce edible shoots all the year round, sold in the local markets and processed for export, which has grown into more than a billion dollar industry per year. The possibilities for further development of bamboo are enormous not only in China but in all the other bamboo growing countries, solving many socioeconomic problems. Such activities can only be strengthened by proper methods to conserve resources and use them on a sustainable basis.
Some pioneering studies on ethnobiology of bamboo are conducted in China. The participants visited a village near Xishuangbanna, of the Dani community. The community has a long tradition of cultivating some of the big bamboo species along with rattan, tea, litchi and kaki fruit trees. Regular harvesting cycle is followed. Internodes of growing bamboo culms are hollowed to raise insects which form a delicacy in the diet of local people.
We are happy to publish the proceedings of the training course cum workshop and believe that various details recorded and research possibilities suggested for the future would interest and stimulate the bamboo researchers in different countries.
An activity like this would not have been successful but for the help and cooperation of many individuals and organisations. Naming them would produce a long list. We are thankful to all of them. In particular we are grateful to Professor Pei Shengji and Mr Yang Yongpin and Mr Wang Kangling of the Kunming Institute of Botany for their continued support.
V. Ramanatha Rao