India's infinite money grass

Bamboo sustains large rural populations in india, and state forest department coffers

Published: Tuesday 15 July 2003

-- According to the 2003 Forest Survey of India report, area under bamboo is 8.96 million hectares, or about 12.8 per cent of total forest area

India has the world's largest bamboo forest, with 136 species, including 11 exotic ones. 58 species flourish in the north-eastern region alone

10 million people depend on bamboo as a livelihood source

Commercially important species of bamboo usually mature in three years. After this, multiple harvests are possible every second year for up to 120 years in some species, and infinitely in others

The bamboo mission programme will enable about 5.01 million families of artisans and farmers to cross the poverty line . According to estimates, investment in bamboo production enhancement would yield a five-fold return within 5-8 years

The current demand of bamboo for various purposes is estimated at 26.69 million tonnes as against supply of 13.47 million tonnes

Gregarious flowering will affect 30,000 square kilometres of bamboo forests during 2004-07. It will affect 18,000 sq km under 'muli' bamboo (Melocanna baccifera) in north-eastern states, with the epicentre in Mizoram. Standing bamboo will die after flowering. If harvested, it could turn the economy of the region around.

Growing tall
Current and expected size of bamboo market
Product/application Current market
(Rs in crore)
Expected market
(Rs in crore)
Bamboo shoot 4.8 (2001) 300 (by 2015)
Bamboo as wood substitute 10,000 (import value) 30,000 (in next 20 years)
Bamboo plyboard 1,200 3,908 (by 2015)
Bamboo flooring 200
(both domestic and export)
1,950 (by 2015)
Bamboo pulp 100 2,088 (by 2015)
Bamboo furniture 380 3,265 (by 2015)
Building and construction material
Scaffolding -- 861 (by 2015)
Housing -- 1,163 (by 2015)
Roads -- 274
Bamboo grids -- 1,000 (by 2015)
Tiny and cottage industry 394 600 (by 2004)
Total 12,274.8 45,409
Source: National Mission on Bamboo Technology and Trade Development, Planning Commission, 2003

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