As a farmer, I have been studying the prospects of bamboo as a plantation crop ( agro-forestry), to substitute Poplars and Eucalyptus. Few bottle-necks exist, for bamboo agro-forestry systems to be successful in India.

To my mind, bamboo can be a very lucrative plantation crop, PROVIDED that

  • Farmers are educated with the technical skills- both, for growing and primary processing.
  • Primary Processing and some value addition is done at the farm- by the farmer himself. In other words, the farmer has to evolve into an agro-entrepreneur. Necessary knowledge-systems, infrastructure and Capital Expenditure would be required by the farmer, for the said evolution.
  • Market linkages are established between the growers and the processors and a cluster model is developed (see below).
  • Good planting material is made available. Different genotypes of bamboo have different mechanical properties. Thus, choice of planting material, has to be market oriented, besides its suitability to the local agro-climate. Thus Bambusa Balcooa is a good choice where fiber and pulp industries exist. Likewise, Bambusa Nutans is more suitable for the handicraft industry. A self sufficient cluster model, where the raw material is grown in the vicinity of the industry consuming it- would go a long way in promoting the bamboo agro-forestry system.
  • Bamboo is de-classified as Forest produce and it is allowed to be transported, un-hindered, without any interference from the forest department.
  • Market oriented novel applications for bamboo need to be explored and related processing capabilities/facilities developed.