Bamboo Farming Guide – Profit, Economics and More

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about bamboo farming is feasibility. Its one of the few products which cannot be sold in a mandi. The only use which comes to mind is scaffold in construction sites or poles for mandaps. These are the only place you can see bamboo being used. Fortunately, bamboo is one of the few produce which is in a constant demand. Bamboo is used by paper manufacturers, there are fibers manufacturers who use bamboo to make organic cloth which are more durable than cotton and then there is bio fuel which can be produced from bamboo. There are a lot more uses to bamboo and the demand is always there. You just need to tap into the market. 

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Planting Bamboo 

Bamboos can be planted from seed, Cuttings or rhizomes. Seeds are very rare and expensive. Its the least recommended and practised method or cultivating bamboos. Cuttings and rhizomes are more practical approach, cost effective and efficient. Rhizomes have a higher success rate but cuttings are much more easier and easily available to start a bamboo plant. Cost of rhizomes are also higher than that of cuttings at 100 to 120 rs per rhizome. Plants from cuttings cost approximately 60 rs. The price of the plant also depends on the variety and quality of the bamboo plant.

Bamboo Plant spacing and Land preparation

Bamboo does not require a lot when it comes to land preparation but it does require right spacing. You will reduce a lot in transportation costs if its planned well and allow trucks or vehicles to move in between the plants while transporting your harvest. Keeping this in mnd, its recommended to plant bamboo in rows with a distance of 12 meter by 4 meter. This allows approximately 100 plants per acre. If you plant at 5 by 4 meter  which is recommended distance, this allows for a dense plantation of approximately 250 plants and its perfectly feasible for bamboo cultivation. 

Remove all weed and if required plough the land to get rid of any weeds. A pit should be dug at the require distance at 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. Compost or FYM should be applied during the planting of bamboo. Its also recommended that you treat the saplings with a normal fungicide before planting bamboo. Water the plant immediately after replanting and daily there after for a month. After a month, reduce watering to alternate days and after 6 months reduce it to once a week. Bamboo usually grows very fast with some varieties growing up to 6 feet in 24 hours. With watering daily, you will see this growth but its unnecessary as the bamboo will grow to its maximum size even without your extra effort. This is one of the few reasons bamboo is considered one of the few best crops which is easy to maintain and has a very high yield.

Though harvesting can be started from the 3rd or 4th year for some varieties, its recommended that you do not harvest for up to 7 years. By the 7th year, you will see at least  culms (1 culm per year) and increasing every year, consistently increasing yield after each harvest.

Soil, Climatic conditions, Fertilizers, Irrigation and Pesticides

As far as india is concerned, Apart from the Kashmir valleys, Bamboo can be cultivated anywhere. The easter part of india is the highest producer of bamboo today. Bamboo is grown mostly in forest areas and move than 12% of the forest area is mamboo. This is entirely owned by the government of india as forest land. Bamboo cultivation by private owners are limited and there is a huge demand for bamboo making it a lucrative crop for cultivation. Its also to be noted that the laws concerning bamboo is changing rapidly in the state and central level. 

As far as soil and climatic conditions are concerned, Bamboo can be grown anywhere as long as its not extremely cold. Hot and warm climatic conditions are recommended but weather below 15 degree is not suitable for bamboo. Soil ph should be between 4.5 and 6, which is mostly the case in india. The soil shouldnt be too sandy. Rocky soil is not feasible for bamboo cultivation. As far as fertilizers are concerned, Bamboo require very little fertilizers. 10 KG of FYM per year should be more than sufficient. Adding 1 KG of other fertilizers Like a mix of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous will give bette growth. Total investment per plant would be 50 Rs on the higher side if you intend to fertilize the bamboo plants. An annual application of 10 KG of FYM plant is recommended for growth of bamboo.

Pests are rare and if any are caused by insects. Application of pesticide is rare when it comes to bamboo but if require this may incur an additional cost of 2000 rs per acre. Irrigation during the first 3-4 years are required and the cost of a drip pipe is useful and saves water, effort and resources. Expect an initial investment of 50,000 Rs per acre for this alone.

Bamboo Farming Subsidy in India.

Presently , India imports bamboo at Rs.12000 Per tonne and india is the second largest producer of bamboo in the world. Where do we import from? China. China is the largest producer of Bamboo in the world. But the government of india wants to promote bamboo cultivation in india to reduce the imports. Farmers are provided a subsidy of 120 Rs per plant as subsidy for farming bamboo. The cost may look insignificant at first but it covers the entire cost of plantation in most cases. Your investment could be reduced by 30-50% with just that amount. 

An acre can accommodate up to 2000 Bamboo plants. Bamboo plants could cost anywhere from rs.60 to 100, Depending on what kind of bamboo plants you intend to purchase. Saplings from shoot and tissue culture are approximately 60 Rupees and Rhizomes could cost you up to 100 Rs and even more. The cost for planting 2000 Plants would be approximately 1Lakh 20 thousand rupees to 2 lakh Rs. With the subsidy you would pay nothing for the plants cost at all. All you invest in is the fertilizers, irrigation and the maintenance of the plant. 

Bamboo subsidy is available all through india. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar pradesh are few of the states which have good utilization of the subsidy. Other states, though a bit behind are catching up fast. Tamil nadu, Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand are fast evolving as bamboo growers today.

Bamboo Farming Economics – Profits and Duration

All good things take time. For bamboo its 6-7 years before you start your first harvesting. For 6 years at least, you will have to put in time, money and effort into your bamboo plantation. This may sound a bit too harsh and too much of a time but you would recover your investment in as little as 10 years from the date of plantation. Below is the calculation for bamboo plantation .

Cost of plantation per acre

1st year2nd Year Onwards
Plant Sapling20000
FYM60006000
Fertilizer2000020000
Pesticides1000010000
Drip Installation50000
Irrigation1200012000
Labour2500025000
Machinery Cost15000
Miscellaneous1000010000
Total16800083000

Your maximum cost incurred from the second year is approximately 83,000 Drip installation costs will be zero from second ear and there is no cost for machinery either. Machinery cost is basically for tractors and leveling the land which is not required after planting the bamboo. Also the cost for saplings is zero. 

Coming to profits. The profits do not start till the 6th year. So you will have to incur the cost of 83000 For the first 6 years at least.

IncomeExpenseCumulative Overhead
Year 10-168000-168000
Year 20-83000-251000
Year 30-83000-334000
Year 40-83000-417000
Year 50-83000-500000
Year 60-83000-583000
Year 770000-83000-596000
Year 880000-83000-599000
Year 990000-83000-592000
Year 10100000-83000-575000
Year 11110000-83000-548000
Year 12120000-83000-511000
Year 13130000-83000-464000
Year 14140000-83000-407000
Year 15150000-83000-340000
Year 16150000-83000-273000
Year 17150000-83000-206000
Year 18150000-83000-139000
Year 19150000-83000-72000
Year 20150000-83000-5000
Year 21150000-8300062000
Year 22150000-83000129000
Year 23150000-83000196000
Year 24150000-83000263000
Year 25150000-83000330000
Year 26150000-83000397000
Year 27150000-83000464000
Year 28150000-83000531000
Year 29150000-83000598000

The above chart is based on a few factors. There is a maximum of 15 culms for the entire period of time. Though this is not true, its a more conservative approach. We have also set the expenses at 83,000 Rs per year which is Higher than normal. A normal plantation wouldnt take more than 30,000-40,000 Rs per year in management. Its unlikely that you do any form of weeding or fertilizing after the 7th or 8th year as the plantation would be dense with bamboos. The number of cums after the 10th year is usually up to 20 per plant. This is very normal as each bamboo plant will have at least 4-5 young plants per year if maintained well. But we are being very conservative here when it comes to income and overboard with the expenses. We are also capping the profit per acre at 150000

The above calculations indicate that the break even happens in 20 years. This is a long time for most farmers. If you can cut the expenses to 40,000 which is the real amount in most cases to maintain a bamboo farm, you would break even in 13 years and profit from there onwards to the 30th year. The maximum life of a bamboo plant is up to 30 years though there are bamboos which can live significantly longer (up to 130 years). 30 years is considered the life of a bamboo plant grown commercially.

Below is the chart if you can cut costs to 40000 per year from the second year

IncomeExpenseCumulative Overhead
Year 10-168000-168000
Year 20-40000-208000
Year 30-40000-248000
Year 40-40000-288000
Year 50-40000-328000
Year 60-40000-368000
Year 770000-40000-338000
Year 880000-40000-298000
Year 990000-40000-248000
Year 10100000-40000-188000
Year 11110000-40000-118000
Year 12120000-40000-38000
Year 13130000-4000052000
Year 14140000-40000152000
Year 15150000-40000262000
Year 16150000-40000372000
Year 17150000-40000482000
Year 18150000-40000592000
Year 19150000-40000702000
Year 20150000-40000812000
Year 21150000-40000922000
Year 22150000-400001032000
Year 23150000-400001142000
Year 24150000-400001252000
Year 25150000-400001362000
Year 26150000-400001472000
Year 27150000-400001582000
Year 28150000-400001692000
Year 29150000-400001802000

Some facts about Bamboo 

Increasing profit from Bamboo plantation

No one has 13-20 years of time to make money. We all are looking for some ready income or some means to generate revenue, cut costs and maintain the lifestyle. If you were to invest 1 Lakh rupees every year and be unsure of the outcome for 13 years or even 5 years for that matter, its frustrating. Though farmers will see income from the 6th year, most farmers will not realize all the time and money they have invested over the 6 year time. What if there was a way to generate more money from the 3rd year. Enough to sustain yourself and maintain the bamboo plantation. What if you could make a pofit from your bamboo plantation from the 3rd year? Yes thats possible and all it takes is a bit of more effort. 

The actual profit is not in the bamboo plant itself. The actual bamboo plantation is more or less like a long term investment. Its like investing in a share of tata or reliance. The returns may be slow but they are sure to come. It may take 10 years or 20 but the returns are big andist 100% sure. But then there are short term profits. Like day trading. If you know shares, you may understand buying today and selling tomorrow or even the same day. The margins may be low but when you do it in bulk, the profits are significant in shares. The same applies to farming too.

Bamboo Nursery

Lets talk Bamboo Nursery. The Best way to make profits FAST and easily.

From the second year, bamboo plants will start growing from the already growing, existing bamboo. Each bamboo plant may provide from 3 -24 small bamboo plants. These rhizomes may be dug up and replaced in a plastic nursery bag with cocopeat and compost mix. Each rhizome today sells for 100Rs. If you can cultivate an average of 3 bamboo baby plants per plant, you would have 600 baby bamboo plants per acre. An average of 100 Rs would earn 60,000 Rs per acre from just them. A nursery of bamboo plants is not a bad idea at all. It would increase your revenue from 0 to 60,000 Rs per year from the second year onwards, increasing revenue drastically and bringing down the time to profit from bamboo plantations.