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Bamboo, a promising crop for progressive farmers

Huge demand and better returns attract farmers to bamboo cultivation.   | Photo Credit: Ritu_Raj_Konwar;Ritu_Raj_Konwar - Ritu Raj Konwar

A young farmer in Kodagu district of Karnataka has reaped a bountiful harvest of bamboo even as fellow-farmers kept their lands fallow owing to low returns from paddy.

Five years ago, Nikhil R. Shanbag, a progressive farmer from Karada, near Veerajpet in Kodagu district, turned to bamboo cultivation on an experimental basis.

An interior designer by profession, Mr. Shanbag’s initiative had proved that cultivation of bamboo on a commercial scale can indeed be lucrative. About five years ago, he planted as many as 600 clumps of bambusa tulda (Indian timber bamboo) on his 1.25 acre fallow land.

The farmer got 500 bamboo culms (poles) from about 400 matured bamboo clumps in his first harvest a few weeks ago. He sold the poles for ₹100 apiece to the Medhar, a bamboo basket-making community in Karnataka. Now, Mr. Shanbag is planning to expand the cultivation to eight acres of fallow land.

Fastest-growing

Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant and there is no recurring expense incurred on irrigation, fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides, Mr. Shanbag told The Hindu. Harvesting can start from the fifth year and an average income of ₹1 lakh can be expected from an acre from the sixth year onwards for a period of 30 to 40 years, he adds.

Many progressive farmers in Kerala and Karnataka try their luck in bamboo cultivation with the hope of securing sustainable income.

Hussain of Uliayappanchalil at Padinharethara in Wayanad district of Kerala has cultivated almost three varieties of thornless bamboo on ten acres of land after felling rubber trees.

He planted bamboo after consulting scientists from the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi.

Better returns in a short span of time, no recurring expenses and huge demand for bamboo poles in the market are some of the major attractions of cultivating bamboo, said Mr. Hussain. Dearth of skilled labourers for tapping rubber and uncertainties prevailing in the sector prompted him to switch to bamboo. There is a huge demand for bamboo poles in the construction and farming sectors in the region, he said adding that bamboo was a major raw material for many new products including bamboo tiles. Now the demand for bamboo poles in metropolis in the State is catered to by the North East States, he says.

More than 200 farmers in the district had already planted bamboo nearly a decade ago as an inter-crop and they were getting a better income from the crop, M. Baburaj, president, Uravu Bamboo Village, an NGO functioning in bamboo sector of the Wayanad District, said.

The Uravu had disbursed close to three lakh bamboo saplings from its nursery to farmers and forest department last year, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 3:20:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/bamboo-a-promising-crop-for-progressive-farmers/article24910099.ece

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