Bamboo Cultivation in India – Process, Yield & Profit

Bamboo is called “Green Gold” and the new wonder plant. It is the plant of the future with great potential. Due to it’s multiple utilisation, sustainability, increasing demand and high profit, bamboo cultivation is getting popular in India.

Bamboo Plant Overview

Scientific NameBambusa vulgaris
Common NameBaans (Bengali/Urdu/Punjabi), Banas (Hindi), Moongil (Tamil), Veduru (Telugu), Moolankumbu (Malayalam)
SoilGrows on a wide range of soil but well drained sandy or clay soil with pH range between 4.5 to 6.0 is ideal. Rocky soil is not suitable.
ClimateA warm temperate climate where summer temperatures do not slip below 15℃ and chilly winds do not blow in winter.
HarvestFirst harvest after 6 years of planting. Economic life is more than 30 years.
Yield20-30 tonnes/acre after 6 years and 40-50 tonnes from 9th year onwards. (Greatly varies by bamboo species and plantation density)
Crop TypeAgroforestry
Bamboo cultivation
Bamboo cultivation

Bamboo grows tall but it belongs to the grass family. India is the second largest producer of bamboo after China but covers the most area under bamboo. About 14 million hectares or 17% of the total 80.9 million hectares of forest in India is covered with bamboo. Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under bamboo but north-eastern states are the largest producer of bamboo and use it in their daily life.

Its ability to withstand drought and flood and to grow on degraded waste and wetland makes it a good choice for unutilised land. Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant. Low care and plantation cost coupled with good demand makes bamboo a great agroforestry crop.

National Bamboo Mission (NBM) is taking various initiatives to promote bamboo plantation and increase the area under bamboo plantation in private agriculture and non-forest land.

Uses of Bamboo

Bamboo is a versatile multipurpose plant and often called the “poor man’s timber”.  For its sustainable, renewable, multipurpose uses demand for bamboo is increasing rapidly globally and is now being referred to as “green gold”. Below are top uses of bamboo.

  • Food: Young bamboo shoots are a delicacy, bamboo murabba is another popular food. Bamboo is a regular food item in North-East Indian cuisine.
  • House construction: Bamboo is very popular for low cost sustainable eco-friendly housing. It is used extensively from flooring, roofing, structuring, scaffolding to decorating and fencing.
  • Agricultural implements: Fencing, scaffolding, plant supporting, animal housing, grain storage silo, etc.
  • Furniture: Bamboo is suitable for various furniture making and there are specific varieties of bamboo for furniture making. Bamboo furniture is getting mainstreamed quickly.
  • Handicraft: Bamboo is an ideal material for a wide range of handicrafts and home and kitchen accessories and has a good domestic as well as international market.
  • Pulp and paper: Pulp, paper and paperboard is made from bamboo. Bamboo paper is stronger and has a wide range of applications.
  • Textile: Bamboo is used for clothing and various fabric making. Bamboo cloths have distinct advantages like high sweat absorb, insulation, UV protection, etc.
  • Plywood: Plywood and various engineered wood including particle board and bamboo flooring.
  • Fuel: Dried bamboo is used as fuel for cooking but it has even broader utilisation as fuel. Recently power plants across the globe are using bamboo as an alternative to coal to generate power. Bamboo is sustainable and more suitable to generate heat in power plants.
  • Charcoal: Bamboo charcoal is a sustainable solution for various industrial requirements of charcoal.
  • Ethanol: Ethanol is a biofuel and governments across the globe including India are scrambling for ethanol to replace fossil fuels like petrol and diesel. The Indian government is speeding up the ethanol production and has set a target of 20% ethanol blended petrol before 2025 to save the foreign reserve and bring down the price. Currently sugarcane is the main source of ethanol in India but bamboo is more efficient and sustainable and used across the globe for ethanol production. 
Bamboo furniture
Bamboo furniture


Demand for bamboo is growing rapidly for its sustainability and multipurpose use. Domestic demand for bamboo is 26 million metric tonnes which exceeds domestic production by at least 7-8 million metric tonnes. With emerging sectors like engineered wood, ethanol, power plants, etc. the demand is going to increase manifold. International demand for Indian bamboo and bamboo products is also on the rise. 

Due to aesthetics there is a steep increase in demand for round agarbatti sticks. Traditionally square ones were handmade in small industries but with decreased import duty (down to 5% from earlier 30%) importation of raw agarbatti and round agarbatti sticks was rising which resulted in losses of market and jobs for domestic agarbatti industry. In 2018, the size of the domestic agarbatti industry was Rs. 6000 crore within which Rs. 800 crore worth of raw agarbatti and agarbatti sticks were imported from China and Vietnam. In a more recent report in May, 2022 about 5000-6000 tonnes of bamboo is imported every month for agarbatti manufacturing.

In 2020, the Indian government has re-introduced the import duty (25%) of these products to boost domestic bamboo and agarbatti industries. There is a huge opportunity in cultivation of bamboo at present as well as in future. Most of the bamboo grows in forests in India with low productivity. Now the government wants it to be cultivated but India needs at least 4-5 years more for self-sufficiency in bamboo production for the agarbatti industry only.

Bamboo Cultivation Method

1. Bamboo Varieties

There are around 1200-1400 bamboo species around the world and 136 of them are found in India. The NBM has identified and shortlisted 16 of them for commercial cultivation in India. These varieties are specific for certain operations like constructions, biomass, furniture making, handicrafts, etc. Few of the important varieties are- Bambusa tulda, B. bambos, Bambusa balcooa (Beema), B. cacharensis, B. polymorpha, B. nutans, Dendrocalamus asper, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Thyrsostachys oliveri, etc.

2. Propagation

Bamboo can be propagated through seeds, wildings, cuttings, offsets, tissue culture, air layering, etc. Propagation through cuttings is an easy, economic and effective method for bulk propagation. Recently tissue cultured bamboo plants with improved genetics have also been developed but availability throughout India is not the same.

3. Planting

After clearing the land pits are dug and filled with topsoil mixed with FYM, urea, superphosphate and MoP. The size of the pit ranges from 1ft X 1ft X 1ft to 3ft X 3ft X 3ft. Lower the rainfall larger the pit size to create a micro catchment zone for rainwater. Young healthy plants are transplanted at the beginning of monsoon. After the initial plantation bamboos multiply each year and do not need to be replanted every year.

4. Spacing

16.5ft X 16.5ft160
16.5ft X 13ft203
10ft X 10ft435
12ft X 4ft907
6.5ft X 6.5ft1031

Traditionally around 200 plants are planted per acre but the planting density depends on various factors such as bamboo species, objective of the plantation, agroclimatic conditions etc. High density plantation is the modern trend. Too closely spaced plantations will suffer from competition for sunlight, air, soil moisture and nutrients. Too open plantations will suffer from canopy exposure and the plants will bend and fall over each other.

5. Intercropping

Income starts after 6 years from bamboos and intercrops can be taken in the initial 4-5 years. Turmeric, ginger, chilli, tomato, watermelon, wheat, sweet potato, banana, etc. can be grown in this period. Selection of intercrop depends on spacing between bamboo plants and bamboo species.

6. Manuring and Fertilisation

Bamboo is a heavy feeder and requires a continuous source of nutrients. A yearly application of NPK or FYM around every bunch of plants is helpful for fast growing and colour development. 2-2.5 kg of slow releasing NPK fertiliser is needed per year for every bunch of plants.

7. Irrigation

Bamboo can withstand drought and flood. After the initial few months bamboo does not require regular irrigation. But for healthy and faster growth, regular irrigation should be ensured. Traditionally trenches around the bunches or along the plants are dug for irrigation but drip or sprinkler can be installed for more efficient use of water.

8. Mulching

Mulching is very effective in low rainfall areas to conserve soil moisture. Dry fallen bamboo leaves are gathered around the base of the plants. These leaves are beneficial in many ways.

  1. Mulching: The leaves prohibit the soil from getting direct sunlight exposure and works as mulching to conserve soil moisture and promote growth.
  2. Weed control: Weeds compete with the plants for resources if the field is left open. As the leaves spread over the field weeds do not get a chance to grow.
  3. Protect bamboo shoots: Protects the young bamboo shoots from direct sunlight and reduces mortality and deformation.
  4. Manure: The leaves get decomposed over time and converted into high quality organic manure. This maintains soil texture and fertility and reduces fertiliser cost.

Harvesting and Yield

Harvesting of bamboo starts at 7th year and lasts 30-120 years. Culms start growing within 3 years and take another 2-3 years to be mature enough for harvesting. At the end of 5-6 years 4-6 culms are obtained per bamboo clump. That means 800-1200 bamboo poles can be harvested if 200 plants are planted initially. In high density plantations 20-30 tonnes/acre in 7th year and 40-50 tonnes from 9th year can be obtained in case of Bambusa balcooa or Beema bamboo.


By amending the Indian Forest Act, bamboo has been declared as a non-timber forest product to boost the bamboo sector. Now harvesting, transporting and marketing of bamboo do not require any pre-approval. Marketing of bamboo is easy and can be done in two ways.

  1. Bulk: Bamboo can be marketed in bulk to the industrial buyers. There is very high demand for bamboo in the biomass, pulp and paper, textile, plywood, etc. industries. Large scale farmers or collectives can do contract farming with bulk industrial buyers. Bulk price of bamboo is around Rs.3500-4000/tonne.
  2. By piece: Bamboo can also be marketed by the piece. Good quality bamboo has demand from builders, architects, interior decorators, furniture manufacturers, handicraft manufacturers, etc. There is also local farmgate demand. Generally farmers make more money by selling per piece. A good quality matured bamboo can be marketed anywhere between Rs.50-120 in India.

Should You Grow Bamboo?

Bamboo is ideal for farmers looking for sustainable profitable business, industrial users looking for cheap and secured supply of raw materials and corporations looking for carbon credit. Infosys has planted thousands of bamboo in their campus to become a carbon neutral company. Bamboo can be planted as monoculture, intercrop and along the border of farmland. Bamboo is a versatile crop and is ideal for those looking to capitalise the current demand and future potential.

Advantages of Bamboo Farming

  • Bamboo is the crop of the future and has immense potential.
  • Bamboo has diverse uses and huge demand.
  • First harvest within 6-7 years and thereafter every year.
  • Growing bamboo is easy and requires low care and labour.
  • Bamboo can withstand drought and flood. After the initial few months bamboo does not require regular irrigation.
  • Bamboo is a great plant to control soil erosion. 
  • After the initial plantation bamboo multiplies each year and gives decades of harvesting without replantation.
  • The Indian government is promoting bamboo plantation and giving big subsidies through NBM.

Disadvantages of Bamboo Farming

  • If the farm is located in an area with strong cold winds and where summer temperature slips below 15℃.
  • Bamboo is a very invasive plant and does not maintain territory. If it is planted along borders it may invade neighbour’s land.

A Sample Bamboo Cultivation Project

Below is a sample project of bamboo cultivation of Bambusa balcooa or Beema bamboo variety based on the following assumptions. The area under plantation is considered 1 acre with a plant spacing of 10ft X 10ft which accommodates 435 plants/acre. After the end of the 6th year there will be (435X5) = 2,175 culms. A drip irrigation system will be installed, as efficient water management enhances growth.

As the area under cultivation is small, bamboo will be sold per piece in this sample project. Average farmgate selling price is considered Rs. 80/bamboo. Cost per planting material is considered Rs. 40/plant.


Item1st Year2nd Year3rd Year4th Year5th Year6th Year7th Year8th Year9th Year
Harvestable culms per plant457
Bamboo yield per acre (considering 5% mortality)0000001,6532,0662,893
Total Income0000001,32,2401,65,2802,31,440
Land preparation, pit digging and planting15,00000000000
Drip irrigation system45,00000000000
Fertilisers and manures13,00015,00015,00018,00018,00018,00018,00018,00018,000
Plant protection5,00000000000
Total Expenditure1,10,90032,00035,00041,00041,00041,00041,00041,00041,000
Net Income-1,10,900-32,000-35,000-41,000-41,000-41,00091,2401,24,2801,90,440
(Amount in Rs.)

Commercial harvesting starts after 6 years and the plants stay productive for more than 25-30 years. The cost of bamboo cultivation can be reduced by utilising government subsidies under ‘National Bamboo Mission’.

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