Partnerships to optimize technology in bamboo supply by forest communities

IoFE Team at BIPP- ISB has collaborated with Rural Technology Action Group (RuRTAG), IIT Madras and the Center for Rural Development Technology (CRDT) IIT Delhi to reduce the transportation cost of Bamboo from the forests, where they are harvested, to the industries interested in procuring directly from the communities. We met BILT Graphic Paper Products Ltd., (BGPPL) 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 cost. BGPPL briefed that the moisture in the Bamboo gives more weight. Bamboo’s hollow structure occupies extra space in packing and transportation. Due to these factors, Bamboo procuring cost per truck is higher than other raw materials such as Eucalyptus and Casuarina, making it less lucrative to the industry.  

The BIPP-ISB team found that transporting massive quantities of Bamboo to meet industry needs is viable neither to the communities nor to the industries as a truckload can only accommodate seventeen tonnes. Freshly harvested Bamboo has high quantities of moisture, adding more weight than the other materials. Bamboo collectors dry the bamboo prior to transportation to meet the manufacturing requirements. During this process volume and space occupancy reduce , fetching lower prices at higher transportation costs. Higher volumes of Eucalyptus and Casuarina can be transported compared to Bamboo in the same price range and space available. Eucalyptus and Casuarina have higher mass per unit density than bamboo. Bamboo with high moisture levels fetches less price, so the suppliers do not get paid well. 

BIPP-ISB is working on efficiency enhancement in terms of tonnage per truck to bring in price economies. This is beneficial to the sellers and buyers. The collaboration aims to optimize the bamboo packaging specifically to optimize transportation of larger quantities. The CRDT and RuRTAG wings have arrived at a 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 is working on the machine conceptualization to split the Bamboo in bulk. Meanwhile, the team at RuRTAG, IIT Madras is designing optimum truckload assembly patterns and points of bamboo aggregation to maximize the tonnage per truck of Bamboo. 

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