Tripura explores bamboo shoot business

Biswendu Bhattacharjee

Although environmentalists are against consumption of bamboo shoots, Tripura Bamboo Mission (TBM) has undertaken packaging of shoots for a palatable dish in posh hotels of India and abroad.

To ensure employment generation in the integrated development of the Bamboo sector and economic development through available bamboo resources, bamboo shoots have a good market capability worldwide, TBM officials claim.

It has focus on commercialization of bamboo shoots. The abundance of availability of bamboo is a good reason to pursue the line of activity given the new found fondness of the Indian consumer palate.

The effort has been undertaken to scale up packing bamboo shoots, which is already being conducted in an informal manner in Tripura. To develop technology based applications of bamboo and establish viable enterprises engaged in the production of high value added bamboo based products in the state, which has already been acclaimed globally.

Referring to market opportunity of bamboo shoots, Industries and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury opines that the mission is in the process of establishing an effective collection mechanism from the field and linking to storage and bulk packaging facility can open up market opportunities. To begin, a small scale production facility could be set up that demands an investment of Rs. 35,000 towards equipment which can operate from home location.

This system of production will deploy basic cleaning, cutting/chopping and packaging facility capable of bulk packaging of bamboo shoots.

“These bulk packs can be shipped out to food processing units in other parts of the country through a consolidator's intervention, assuming a margin of Rs 5-6 per kg that can be achieved through this route the unit has the ability to be viable at a low scale,” Chowdhury points out.

The second production mechanism could be a scaled up facility capable of processing 40 MT of shoots given the 90 day for harvesting season where processing of other fruits would help justify a larger investment though such unit will be more capital intensive at Rs 7-8 lakh investment and is advisable to be pursued afterwards.

A bamboo shoot processing unit is already operational in Agartala selling products under a brand name in which NERAMAC is also involved through its distribution efforts. In any case it makes eminent sense to establish a formalized collection system if only to feed the existent unit at Agartala to begin with. This would comprise storage and a networked system of procurement at the community level connected to a manufacturer.

Minister however states that Tripura Industrial Policy and the Industrial investment promotion scheme 2007, announced by the state government have identified bamboo as principal non-timber forest produce of Tripura.

The Government has set up a State of Art, Bamboo Park with an estimated investment of Rs 50 Cr with the common facilities that comprises of production processes generic to the enterprises, business development platforms, product development & training centers.

“Tripura is best positioned to lead the bamboo sector in the country on account of the rich bamboo resources available in the state and the large skill base of people who are adept in the various aspects handling of bamboo besides, encouraging private investment by offering an attractive incentive for enterprises,” Chowdhury adds.

 Biswendu Bhattacharjee is a journalist working for national media. He is based in Agartala, capital of Tripura state.