Partnerships to optimize technology in bamboo supply by forest communities

BIPP-ISB is in talks with the Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) wing of IIT Madras and the Center for Rural Development Technology (CRDT) of IIT Delhi about potential partnerships. The objective is to provide solutions for optimizing the transportation of bamboo. There are several challenges in drying, packaging, and loading bamboo from the forest site to the factory gates. We met BILT Graphic Paper Products Ltd. (BGPPL) in Ballarpur to understand the issues leading to reduced demand for bamboo as their raw material. The paper manufacturing firm chose its raw material based on quality and procurement costs. BGPPL explained that the moisture in the bamboo gives it more weight. Bamboo’s hollow structure occupies extra space in packing and transportation. Due to these factors, the cost of procuring bamboo per truck is higher than that of other raw materials such as eucalyptus and casuarina, making it less lucrative for the industry. 

A truckload can only accommodate seventeen tons, and wet bamboo has high quantities of moisture, adding more weight than the material. Bamboo collectors dry the bamboo prior to transportation to meet the manufacturing requirements. Volume and space occupancy decrease during this process, resulting in lower prices but higher transportation costs. Higher volumes of Eucalyptus and Casuarina can be transported compared to bamboo in the same price range and available space. Eucalyptus and Casuarina have higher mass per unit density than bamboo. Bamboo with high moisture levels fetches a lower price, so the suppliers do not get paid well. Our team thus confirmed the lack of viable costs for both the communities and the industries. 

BIPP-ISB is working on efficiency enhancement in terms of tonnage per truck to bring in price economics. This is beneficial to the sellers and buyers. The CRDT and RuTAG collectively provided us with an emergent solution to split the bamboo into four pieces, allowing more quantity per truck and reducing the cost of transportation. This method can also optimize drying time. CRDT, IIT Delhi, agreed to work on the machine conceptualization to split the bamboo in bulk. Meanwhile, the team at RuTAG at IIT Madras is designing optimal truckload assembly patterns and points of bamboo aggregation to maximize the tonnage per truck of bamboo. 

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