How To Start Commercial Bamboo Farming Business

Do you want to start commercial bamboo cultivation? Find here a detailed bamboo farming business plan sample checklist for your ready reference.

Bamboo is a commercial cash crop for both small and large farmers. Bamboo cultivation is profitable. Additionally, it provides long-term earning potential. Also, bamboo is popularly known as the “Poor Mans’ Timber”. The scientific name of bamboo is Bambusoideae. The plant belongs to the true grass family Poaceae. Actually, the plant is a giant grass, with more than 111 genera and about 1575 species.

Basically, it is an evergreen, perennial and flowering plant. The internodal regions of the stem of the plant are usually hollow.

Due to a unique rhizome-dependent system, bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Some of the major bamboo-producing countries are India, China, Indonesia, Ecuador, Myanmar, and Viet Nam. In India, some of the major bamboo-producing states are  Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Economic Importance of Bamboo Farming

First of all, it is a plant of diversified use. Bamboo shoots are an eatable item. In Asian countries, you can find several delicious dishes it including soups and curry.

Basically, bamboo is a great substitute item for wood. It is used as construction material, furniture, pulp, and plywood. Additionally, it is a great item for crafts making. Artisans create a wide range of items with it. The list includes jewelry, home decor items, kitchen items, utility items, and furniture.

Finally, the plant is also used as an ornamental plant also. Basically, it is an emerging item in the florist industry. Potted bamboos are the best item for the interior decoration of both domestic and commercial premises.

Different Regional Names of Bamboo

The plant is popular with different regional names. These are

  • Bamboo is English
  • Banas in Hindi
  • Veduru in Telegu
  • Moongil in Tamil
  • Mulankoombu in Malayalam
  • Kalkipan in Marathi
  • Baans in Bengali, Urdu, and Punjabi

Things To Consider in Bamboo Farming  Business

First of all, it is a long-term plantation crop. You can expect the first revenue after six years after the plantation. Therefore, you must have the preparation for that.

Soil condition is an important aspect of commercial farming. If you already don’t have land, check the soil before finalizing the land.

It is important to craft a business plan prior. You must have an inter-cropping plan. Additionally, craft a financial plan also. Calculate the input costs, expected ROI, and Break-Even.

Have a plan and preparation for plant protection. You must have a clear conception of potential threats from pests and diseases.

Best Varieties For Commercial Bamboo Farming

Selecting the right variety is one of the most crucial aspects of commercial bamboo farming. Basically, you must select the variety according to the soil condition, climate, and the goal of end-use.

You can find several varieties. However, all cultivars are not commercially viable. Some of the best varieties are Bambusa Nutans, Bambusa Balcooa, Bamboosa Bambos, Bambusa Tulda, Thyrostachys Oliverii, Ochlandra Travancorica, Schizostachyum Dullooa, etc.

Agroclimatic Condition for Bamboo Farming

Most of the bamboo species can be grown in a wide range of agro-climatic zones in the country but a suitable matching of the species with the site is crucial to maximize the benefits. The plant requires open sunshine. Therefore, you can’t plant bamboo under other trees. It may lead to failures in plantation establishment.

The optimum temperature range is between 20 to 38°C and rainfall between 900 to 4000 mm for the luxuriant growth of the plant. The preferred altitudinal range is 500 to 4000 MSL. Additionally, you must avoid water-logged areas. Because the poor air circulation in the soil will affect the rhizome growth. It is not advisable to plant bamboo on very steep slopes due to the possibility of the clumps toppling down due to heavy wind or rain is high.

Basic Cultivation Steps in Bamboo Farming

Propagation

Generally, bamboos propagate through culms, cutting, and rhizomes.

When seeds or seedlings are not available, you can propagate bamboo by extracting and transplanting the rhizome. You can also take into consideration a small portion of the previous year’s culm or sometimes the entire culm and the rhizome.

Since the rhizome has a store of food and is capable of growing into the culm and establishing itself, this method has a good rate of success.

The vegetative propagation method is perhaps the most practical of large-scale production. The method involves preparing culm cuttings ( each with a single node or more effectively with two nodes each), and if found necessary, use of rooting hormones.

Finally, tissue culture is the method that can produce plants on a very large scale using small plant parts. The tissue culture method requires trained personnel and specialized facilities for maintaining the sterile and controlled environment.

Planting

The best time for planting is during the pre-monsoon shower. Actually, this method is successful and requires less watering. Basically, the plantations do not require much care except sufficient moisture to prevent drying up in summer. However, you can expect the mortality of plants in extremely difficult sites.

Inter Cropping

The gestation period in the bamboo plantation is five years. During the first three years, it is possible to cultivate profitable intercrops such as turmeric, ginger, chilies, etc., and various shade-loving medicinal and aromatic plants.

Flowering

Most bamboos flower only once in their lifetime and die soon after. Basically, it is a mystery to scientists. The flowering cycle generally varies from 7-120 years and in some the interval is 3 years and a few may even flower annually. Some bamboos, however, have never been observed to flower e.g. (B.vulgaris). Additionally, B. Nutans have the longest flowering cycle of 120 years. Therefore, it is a great variety for commercial plantations.

Manuring

The application of fertilizer is most important during transplantation from nursery to the main field. Basically, this plant is a heavy feeder, and therefore, even rich soil might become depleted after a few years if no fertilizer is added.

Basically, you can apply fertilizer at any time in a year. However, it is preferred to apply after harvest and before irrigation. It should be noted that rhizomes continue to be active (growing) except in the coldest part of the year. It is therefore proper to apply small quantities of fertilizers around the year than one/two large doses. Bamboo responds well to nitrogen and potassium which are found in compost, green manure, wood ash, and chemical fertilizers. Additionally, you can often apply lime to neutralize soil acidity.

Irrigation

During the first year of planting, watering helps obtain higher survival rates especially in areas where the dry period is longer than two months. Irrigation generally helps to increase productivity at least by three times. Natural water conservation methods like ditches or crescent-shaped trenches and the use of mulch help in moisture conservation.

Weed Control

Regular weeding in the initial two to three years is very important for the quicker establishment and faster growth of the clumps. Soon after the rainy season, you must carry out clear knife weeding depending on the site condition and amount of weed present in the plot.

At least an area of 60 cm around the bamboo should be kept clear of weeds particularly the climbers which can smother the young plants. By the third/fourth year when usually the clump gets established,
bamboo starts shedding its own leaf thus preventing the growth of other weeds under the clump

Plant Protection

For the initial two years, you must protect the planted area from fire and grazing. Fencing of the plantation with protection against rodents, wild boar, and grazing animals may, therefore, be needed in some areas.

Basically, the plant is a robust species and no serious disease problems are observed in plantations. Of the various diseases that affect bamboo plantations, the rot of emerging and growing culms, bamboo blight, and thread blight are the economically important ones.

Harvesting & Yield

The annual yield in tons/ ha depends on the environment as well as the species. It is generally 3-4 tons/ha as understory in the forest and 5-12 tons/ ha from plantations. In the drier parts, well-managed and technology-based D. Strictus plantations give a yield of 10 tons/ha. However, well-managed mono culture bamboo plantations in China yield up to 50-ton per/ha/year.

Generally, you can start harvesting from the 5th year onwards. Harvesting of culms in areas where growth is good is often labor-intensive work and requires a high level of skills. Harvesting methods and levels of skill and tools used vary with location. Use of heavy knives and thick ropes will be required in locations where culms are large and heavy and the use of power tools and devices is not feasible.

How To Produce Bamboo Shoot

The bamboo shoot industry has great domestic and export potential. A large potential export market exists for shoots in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) has selected 6 species that are most suited for the development of the bamboo shoot industry in India. These are Bamboosa Balcooa, Dendrocalamus giganteus, D. hamiltonii, D. strictus and Melocanna Bambusoides.

China is the largest exporter of bamboo shoots and Phyllostachys Pubescens is the common species for shoot production, while in Thailand Dendrocalamus asper is the main species for bamboo shoot production.