Marketing aspects of developing growing stock of bamboo (Bambusa bambos) in the home gardens of Kerala State in India.
Bambusa bambos is the naturally grown and most commonly found bamboo in the home gardens of Kerala State in India. Most of the bamboo is marketed through primary and wholesale depots. In primary depots, bamboo is purchased in small lots and sold in smaller quantities whereas in wholesale depots, it is purchased in large lots and sold in bulk. A census survey of both categories of the depots in Kerala revealed that there are 35 wholesale depots, concentrated only in Palakkad District, which have been operating since 1960 for meeting the demand for bamboo poles mainly from retailers, banana farmers and other users in the neighbouring State of Tamil Nadu. There are 95 primary depots scattered across the State, most of which have been functioning since 2000, to cater the local demand for bamboo poles. Of the total quantity of 74,000 metric tonnes of bamboo poles marketed through both categories of the depots in Kerala in 2005, the wholesale depots accounted for the major share of 52%. More than 80% of the annual quantities sold through the wholesale depots over years have been moving out of Kerala, showing steady retail markets for bamboo poles outside the State. The average farm price of bamboo clumps received by a bamboo farmer in 2005 was around 40% of the wholesale price of Rs 2,878 per metric tonne of bamboo, which is relatively a fair return from a crop for which no expenditure was incurred. The net annual profit of an average wholesaler during the same year, after deducting his salary and all other expenses incurred by him, was about Rs 2,07,000, which is also modest. Nevertheless, the annual quantities of bamboo poles sold out of Kerala over years are declining due to shortage in the supply of bamboo poles to the depots. The decline indicates depletion of the growing stock of bamboo clumps in home gardens. As bamboo is not sustainably available to the depots for meeting the required market demand, the growing stock has to be enhanced to avoid depletion. Considering the steady markets for B. bambos poles within and outside the State, it is important to develop the existing growing stock through scientific management and to augment the growing stock by promoting cultivation of B. bambos in home gardens.