Dr. Nirmala Chongtham of Panjab University in Chandigarh, north India has been selected as Chair of the Technical Committee for the 10th World Bamboo Congress. She attended and participated as a speaker at the past two WBCs (Bangkok and Antwerp), and her work on bamboo as a nutritive food supplement is of global importance. The position of Chair entails putting together a team of technical/scientific bamboo-related researchers to receive, review and accept the submitted papers for oral presentation and poster presentation at the next World Bamboo Congress 2015.
In addition to her research into bamboo shoot nutrition, she is teaching full-time undergraduate and graduate students as a Professor in the Department of Botany of Panjab University. Nirmala currently leads eight Ph.D students, six of which are working on bamboos. She says, “Since we are broadening our parameters of research, there are so many things to do, setting up experimental designs and working them out. It’s a passion for me and I do hope that I am able to come out with something which will be of benefit to the underprivileged and society on the whole. “
“Our work on bamboo shoots is progressing well. We are concentrating more on bioactive compounds enhance health. Bamboo shoots are now being used for developing nutraceuticals. So maybe in the near future, people who are not familiar with eating bamboo shoots can just pop in a pill for health benefits!
Her participation at the 9th World Bamboo Congress was particularly rewarding to both herself and to all of us who came to know her. She sent a note upon her return to India, “Just to say thanks for all help and your cordial nature through which you are able to keep such a big bamboo family together! It was a great experience in Belgium and I was rather surprised at the response I received from the delegates after my lecture. I guess it was because it was concerned with food and health which are two very important aspects for all of us. It created a lot of interest for entrepreneurs and farmers because it was something one can start without huge investments. There are differences in priority areas between developed and developing countries and I can understand them more. I think this is one area of bamboo which can be strengthened more”
You can read about Nirmala’s work in the paper she presented at the 9th World Bamboo Congress in 2012 entitled, “Bamboo as a functional food“.
She speaks English, Hindi and Manipuri, and is a wonderful example of a woman who is determined to do good for humankind and enjoy it too!