Growmore Biotech’s bamboo variety is promising to transform India’s renewable energy sector, provide environment-friendly wood for the paper industry and also help reclaim lost forest cover in two years. For companies with large campuses, this bamboo will help them become carbon neutral. Benedict Paramanand discusses the positive impact with Dr. Bharathi, the chief scientist who led a team that developed this wonder plant.
A revolution is in the making. A bamboo variety developed by a small bio-tech company in Hosur could make India and the world go Green faster. The renewable energy movement has got a shot in the arm since this bamboo makes all other alternative biomass options redundant. What’s more, the cost of cultivating and maintaining Beema Bamboo is ridiculously low.
The good news was out five years ago. It has taken the industry and the government this long to begin to realize Beema Bamboo’s potential only now. It looks like there’s no looking back now.
Not genetically modified
Beema Bamboo is NOT genetically modified, stresses Growmore. A team led by Dr.N.Barathi at its plant in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, developed it from the open pollinated population of bamboo found in West Bengal. It’s then subject to further selection and tissue culture to improve and stabilize its yield and made the plant free from disease. The company website assures that Beema Bamboo plant is a product of conventional breeding which no way involved in gene modification. The company has developed propagation technology for over 65 different plant species as well.
Beema Bamboo has 72 chromosomes and is naturally sterile, meaning it never flowers. This property has made this variety perennial. In contrast, all other bamboo varieties have usual cycle of flowering and demise requiring replanting.
This not only saves cost of replanting, it has no thorns and therefore is easy to harvest. It can be grown in all types of soil, doesn’t require much water and offers an average yield of 1000 plants / acre, similar to sugarcane density. It needs ample sunlight and is best suited for tropical and sub-tropical weather with 10 to 14 hours of sunlight. Yet the recommended cultivation practice for this wonder bamboo is precision farming which involves application of required nutrient and water at the appropriate time at the appropriate zone as per the requirement of the plant.
Shakti Power is setting up 10 mw power plant in Tamil Nadu using Beema Bamboo with support from the government and financial institutions. It is adopting contract farming thereby enhancing the earning capacity of rural areas around the plant. Four smaller power plants are being finalized in various states, Dr. Bharathi told SustanabilityNext.
The harvest of the Beema Bamboo starts after 24 months. By then the bamboo would have grown to a size of 3 inches in the bottom and half the size at the top with a height of 15 to 20 ft. Each plant could weigh 6 to 10 kgs of dry weight. Under ideal condition, the first year yield can be about 30 tons of dry biomass weight per acre. Investment needed is Rs. 90,000 to 100,000 for first 2 years and only Rs. 17,000 to Rs.19,000 every year after that.
Because Beema Bamboo does not reed replanting, thereby not degrading the soil, it may become the darling of environmentalists who had complained of conversion of forest land to cultivate trees for paper and construction industries.
According to Dr. Bharathi, South Africa is the first foreign country to experiment with this bamboo variety. The government signed up with Growmore recently for cultivating 1200 acres.
Beema Bamboo offers an excellent opportunity for companies in high pollution industries such as cement, fertilizer, chemicals companies to offset their carbon footprint. In campuses and factories it increases oxygen levels thereby enhancing productivity. Infosys has taken the lead and is planting Beema Bamboo in all its campuses across India.
Rohan Parikh, Head of Green Initiatives and Infrastructure, Infosys, said:
“In order to offset its travel related emissions, Infosys has planted a fast growing Assamese variety of bamboo, capable of absorbing 50 kilograms of carbon dioxide in a year, which is approximately five times the performance of most plants. This bamboo has the potential of becoming the energy crop of the developing world.
Suitable Application of Beema Bamboo
- Biomass for power generation projects.
- Paper Industries
- Construction and Furniture.
- Handicrafts & cottage industries.
Beema Bamboo is recommended for
- Large scale plantation
- Energy plantation for power generation
- Home stead garden planting
- Large reforestation programs
- Land reclamation in mines, sodic soils, water logged areas
Tree area needed for producing 1 MW of power for one year
- Eucalyptus – 1500 acres
- Jali – 2500 acres
- Bio-waste – 8000 acres
- Beema Bamboo – 200 acres
Other advantages of Beema Bamboo
- No need to replant unlike other trees thereby reducing the cost of power
- South African 1250 acres in two months.
- 2 mw power project
States on a planting spree
- Mizoram – 2 lakh plants
- Karnataka – 5 lakh plants shortly
- Gujarat – 1 lakh plants
- Andhra Pradesh – 2 lakh plants