Central govt’s biogas plants to boost bamboo farming
Nagpur: The Central government’s decision to set up 5,000 compressed biogas (CBG) plants in the country will come as a good opportunity for farmers in the state to grow bamboo, which is the biggest source of biomass required to produce CBG.
Last week, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced that by 2023-24, India will see an investment of Rs 2 lakh crore in setting up 5,000 CBG plants. “This path-breaking policy initiative has the potential to provide a much-needed impetus to the bamboo industry,” feel experts.
Sanjeev Karpe, Indian Bamboo Forum (IBF) founder, explained that one CNG plant with a capacity of 5 tonne per day requires 60 tonne of semi-dry biomass. A bamboo plantation of one acre can yield 30 tonne bamboo annually in just three years of plantation. Bamboo harvested from two acres could service the raw material needs of the CNG plant for one day. This provides a sustained market for bamboo farmers.
“This also provides a sustained market to bamboo farmers besides providing them environmental services like controlling soil erosion, raising water table, improving soil fertility among others,” Karpe adds.
However, despite potential, farmers are reluctant to grow bamboo as there is no sustained market. Leading practitioners in the bamboo industry have been striving to motivate farmers to grow bamboo as a cash crop to ensure supply of high quality commercially viable raw material for bamboo-based industries.
Bamboo farmer from Umred Ramesh Dumbhre says, “There is no government promotion and subsidy. As bamboo is not an agriculture crop, farmers are reluctant to grow it because it doesn’t reflect in the 7/12 extract like other crops and also the grower doesn’t get any financial help from banks.”
This is despite the fact that in April 2017, state government has removed transit pass (TP) restrictions. In Maharashtra, bamboo cultivation is going on in 3,315 hectare private land only. Of this, Marathwada alone accounts for 1,400 hectare area.
The decision to set up 5,000 CBG plants can create a sustainable market for over 35 lakh acre bamboo plantation. To boost availability of affordable and clean transport fuel, an agreement was signed for setting up 900 compressed biogas plants by various companies.
Talking to TOI, MP Suresh Prabhu, chairman of IBF, welcomed this policy initiative and said, “IBF will work to ensure that all stakeholders across the bamboo value chain farmers, harvesters, entrepreneurs, artisans etc are provided support to access the benefits of this policy.”
“We plan to launch a massive bamboo plantation drive in the country to ensure that farming community gets its rightful share of this market. This initiative will be piloted in Maharashtra. I’ve already established a high-tech bamboo tissue culture lab and will be shortly starting bamboo-based product skill training centre in Latur to ensure availability of quality material and locally trained youth for fostering bamboo industry,” said Pasha Patel, senior farmer leader.