My eco-friendly bamboo lunchbox from Manipur

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Admit it. The best tiffin field isn’t a click on away. Especially if we’re wholesome, sustainable choices to pack our meals in; one thing that’s created from pure materials, is sturdy and in addition seems to be good.

When the lockdown slowed life and enterprise in Manipur’s Churachandpur district (60 kilometers from Imphal), 27-year-old V Ginkhanpau determined to utilise the time to fine-tune and finalise the search for the bamboo tiffin service he and his crew had began work on. Ginkhanpau, (individuals at work and in his village name him Pau) is a self-trained bamboo artisan who began Zogam Bamboo Works in 2014. His enterprise companion Golan Naulak joined him in 2017.

Ginkhanpau at his workshop in Manipur

Pau says he was eight years previous when he misplaced his mother and father; so he utilised no matter ability he needed to earn a residing. “I became a bamboo artisan because that was the only work I knew. I started doing bamboo craft with some of my friends. That is when I discovered I was good at it. When I grew up, with the little money I saved, I went to Assam to train in bamboo handicraft at Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC) at Byrnihat (19 kilometres from Assam’s capital Dispur and 500 kilometres from Imphal).”

Lockdown enterprise

With ample time obtainable, the Zogam crew labored on the prototype and rolled out just a few handmade bamboo tiffin carriers. Pau says earlier than they bought busy with this, the crew used to create bamboo ornamental and utility objects. “We make pens, stationary holders, cups, mugs and trays. We also make bamboo hairclips and containers (for salt, raw dal and other dry kitchen items),” he says. “When we started working on the tiffin carriers, we were very excited. Golan is a policy researcher who works with community-led initiatives in the Northeast, discussed the tiffin box with an IFS officer. By this time we had also sold a few pieces locally in Manipur,” stated Pau.

He additionally takes satisfaction in saying, “The final product was eye-catching and people loved it. They are priced at ₹599 and ₹799 and can be ordered on Facebook.”

Golan Naulak

Golan Naulak  

Golan says, “The thing with bamboo is that there are too many stakeholders and almost every idea is a repeat. Pau made this wonderful tiffin carrier and we were more than happy to work and improvise on it. I joined Zogam to help them work with research and marketing. I took the tiffin carrier to National Bamboo Mission and Manipur Forest Department. They were more than willing to help us.”

What pushed these tiffin bins into the limelight was a tweet by Indian Forest Service official Sudha Ramen.

The crew makes use of all varieties of bamboo. “Because we work with our hands and not machines, we use the bamboo that is comfortable to work with. For the tiffin carriers, however, we use dragon bamboo (locally called gomi, its circumference is about 17 to 20 centimetres) for the boxes and other varieties for the stand or holder. The other bamboo that can be worked with are gotang, mau and gova,” explains Pau.

FAQs galore

The bamboo tiffin box by Zogam bamboo work

Even because the bins create a buzz on social media, the crew is busy addressing buyer considerations. The most typical question is: “Can we replace steel with this tiffin box?” Says Golan, “It is an eco-friendly alternative. We are not promoting our bamboo boxes as a replacement to traditional tiffin boxes. The other concern is about the method of treatment for the bamboo. After cutting the bamboo, we treat it in our own traditional or local way, without any chemicals. The processes include storing water in the bamboo and keeping it immersed in natural water bodies such as a pond or small river for some days or weeks. After this, we use it to make the tiffin box.”

The crew will now be helped by specialists, to include a copper or metal sheet within the inside lining of the bins. “All thanks to IFS officials,” provides Golan.

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