The area under bamboo cultivation in India is estimated to be more than 13.96 million hectares with more than 136 distinct species, according to National Bamboo Mission.
The topic has a high probability of being asked as an Environment Questions in IAS Prelims.
Bamboo is a very important crop, playing a vital role in the economic and cultural sphere of many livelihoods in India. The Union Government of India in the year 2017 amended the Indian Forests Act 1927 to remove Bamboo from the category of “Trees” and designated it as a Minor Forest Produce. As a result of this, anyone willing can take up Bamboo cultivation and start a Bamboo plantation without the need of requiring any licenses. It is also now legal for tribes inhabiting such forests to use Bamboo for their own use, as well as sell them outside.
Major Bamboo Producing States in India
Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of bamboo in India, followed by Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, and Odisha as per the 2017 Forest Survey of India report. It is worth noting that more than 50% of the bamboo species are found in northeast India alone.
Bamboo Cultivation Requirements
Climate Conditions for Bamboo Farming
Bamboo grows well in a warm, humid environment and is sensitive to cold temperatures. Anything less than 15 Degrees Celsius during summers is not favourable and can kill the plant. The wet and tropical conditions in India are best suited for Bamboo farming.
Soil Conditions for Bamboo Farming
Bamboo plants require a slightly acidic pH soil for the best possible health and growth. A pH of anywhere between 4.5 – 6.0 is good for the overall well-being of Bamboo grass. Although it can grow in a wide variety of soils, except of course rocky soils, well-drained sandy-loam and clay-loam are the best-suited soils for bamboo farming.
Most of the Bamboo species are flood-tolerant and can withstand waterlogging for a considerably longer duration of time, making them extremely helpful in flood-hit areas.
Bamboo Irrigation Methods
Although Bamboo can grow in normal drylands, it loves water. There are various ways used by cultivators to irrigate their bamboo plantation, most efficient are listed below in the respective order:
- Drip Irrigation – It is the most efficient method of watering bamboo plants and is widely used in large bamboo plantations spanning more than several hundred hectares.
- Flood Irrigation – In comparatively smaller-sized plantations, flood irrigation is used for its advantage of low infrastructural setup cost.
- Natural/Rain Water Irrigation – In wet regions such as northeast India, the bamboo plants solely depend upon rainwater and wet forest soil for sustenance.
Bamboo Fertilizer Requirements
Bamboo plants are generally Nitrogen hungry species. They need a lot of Nitrogen for their rapid growth. Farmers mostly apply Urea or Neem Coated Urea in soils that are deficient in terms of Nitrogen content.
Also read about Fertilizer Policy in India in the linked article.
Bamboo Growing Methods
Bamboo is mainly grown through vegetative propagation in most parts of the world, however, it is also grown through culms and rhizomes. Bamboo can also be grown through the seeds, but this is quite rare as the Bamboo seeds are very scarce due to the once-in-a-lifetime flowering nature of Bamboo plants. Many Bamboo species are even sterile and don’t produce flowers or seeds at all, and depend upon other ways to propagate. Once a Bamboo plant bears flowers, it dies quickly thereafter.
Following are the most popular ways Bamboo plants are grown in the respective orders:
- Vegetative propagation (Through Bamboo Cuttings)
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Cropping Pattern in Bamboo Farming
Bamboo has a gestation period of 5 years and any shade-loving crops like turmeric, chillies, ginger, etc. can be grown between the space during the first 3 years for extra income. To utilise the space, Floriculture can and is also practised using exotic flowering plants like Orchids and Lilies, which have a very high price and demand in the market.
Beema Bamboo / Bheema Bamboo
- Beema/Bheema Bamboo is an advanced clone of the existing “Bambusa Balcooa” species.
- The species has a much higher biomass yield.
- It is a non-flowering and sterile species of Bamboo plant which can live up to hundreds of years without needing any human intervention for its spread.
- It is a very fast-growing bamboo plant that can grow at a speed of 1-1.5 feet per day.
- It is considered to be the best Carbon Sink, due to its lifespan and ability to keep growing without death.
- It could be used to establish a permanent green cover to mitigate climate change.
- The calorific value of this Bamboo species is equal to that of coal, due to this reason it is in high demand from cement industries for use in boilers.
Fact: The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has created an Oxygen park within its campus with this Bamboo Species.
National Bamboo Mission
Launched in 2018-19, the restructured National Bamboo Mission is a 100% centrally sponsored sub-scheme operating under the “Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)” scheme. It focuses on developing Bamboo in states where it has economical, social, and cultural advantages, such as northeastern states and states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.
The NMB also provides financial assistance to eligible individuals in the form of subsidies for bamboo cultivation.
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