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Bamboo shoots

A bamboo shoot is a young culm harvested at the time, or shortly after it appears above the soil surface. When the shoot pierces the ground, critical bio-chemical processes start. These lead to rapid growth, as well as concurrent hardening, as the shoot elongates and turns into a woody culm.  

Bamboo shoots have high nutritional value and low fat, and are a good source of fibre. Bamboo shoots are rich in vitamins, cellulose and amino acids. At harvesting, a shoot may contain as much as 90% water. The edible content of a newly harvested shoot is typically around 30%; the balance is made up of the sheath, and the extreme portions of the shoot. 

Most bamboo species produce edible shoots. In many parts of India, bamboo shoots have formed a part of traditional cuisine fresh, dried, shredded or pickled. There is however also a growing market for processed and packaged shoots, representing an opportunity for the establishment of commercially runs processing units.

In India, there is as yet no significant cultivation for shoot nor is there an organised market or supply chain of raw shoots for processing. Plantations have however begun to be established, the preferred species for such plantations being Dendroclamus asper, Bambusa balcooa and Dendrocalmus hamiltonii.

Organised cultivation for shoot requires a different package of practices from that for culm/ timber. Shoot cultivation normally requires better soil, water and light conditions, and more intensive management. A shoot stand consumes more mineral nutrients from the soil, and therefore the application of fertilisers, preferably organic fertilisers is important.

Growers cultivate bamboo shoots for home consumption, with the surplus finding its way to local markets. At present bamboo shoots are sold in India largely in unprocessed form - harvested from homestead clumps, and brought to local markets. Shelf life is limited, also since they tend to be harvested in the hot and humid season. Prices in urban markets for fresh shoots range from 5/- to 20/- per kg., but can be much higher in metro markets. Some quantities are sold dried and preserved with simple additives like salt and lemon juice. There is also a market for fermented shoots. On a slightly larger scale, slivered pickles are marketed.

Modern processing and packaging technologies have developed new dimensions and markets for bamboo shoot. It is now possible, even at the scale of tiny and village level enterprise to prepare and pack shoots for the market, through processes that allow bamboo shoot to retain its freshness for a period of time.

The NMBA is supporting the establishment of industrial scale processing units at Assam and Nagaland.

The Mission has also developed technology packages for bamboo shoot processing at the industrial scale, and for community/ village level enterprise. Using low cost equipment and simple processes, options for shelf life ranging from 9 days (in water) and 23 days (in brine) can be exercised to add value and provide additional income. Such tiny scale enterprise can also function as part of a supply chain for larger scale processing units. The community level technology package has been demonstrated by the NMBA at 24 locations, and has received an overwhelming response.

A study on edible bamboos conducted by Kerala Forest Research Institute on six species namely, Bambusa bambos, Bambusa tulda, Dendrocalamus brandisii, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Dendrocalamus longispathus, Dendrocalamus strictus, has shown that the shoot production season is from June-September. However, if regularly irrigated, the duration of emergence of new shoots can be increased. The shoots are harvested 7-14 days after the emergence when the shoot height will be about 15-30 cm depending upon the species. As per the figures obtained during studies carried out at KFRI, Peechi, Bambusa bambos provided 23 shoots weighing 30-50 Kg. In Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, the average culm production was recorded to be 53 numbers weighing approximately 20-40 Kg.

It was found that the time for first harvest of shoots is about two and a half years after planting, if seedlings are used. In case of rooted node cuttings used as planting material the harvestable shoot is obtained within two years.

The mean height of new shoots produced in different species is as shown below:

Year/s 1999-2002

Species No of
shoots
No of
shoots
emerged
Girth of shoots (in cm)
13 8 5.3
Dendrocalamus longispathus 27 10 4.7
Dendrocalamus brandisii 85 23 12.9
Dendrocalamus strictus 16 19 8
Bambusa bambos 23 11 10.3
Bambusa tulda 68 9 11.2

However, with good management practices like irrigation and fertilizer application, shoot production from the individual species could be extended up to 6 months, with the shoot season of different species peaking at different time maximum shoots can be extracted for a longer period.  At harvesting, a shoot may contain as much as 90% water. The extractability of each species, as is given below:

Extractability of different species of bamboo

No. Name of the Species Edible portion
1 Dendrocalamus hamiltonii 45.75%
2 Dendrocalamus longispathus 40.00%
3 Dendrocalamus brandisii 32.61%
4 Dendrocalamus strictus 20.80%
5 Bambusa bambos 30.25%
6 Bambusa tulda

19.84%

Given below is the bamboo shoot production/year recorded at Chessa bambusetum, Arunachal Pradesh (Data collected by the State Forest Research Institute, Itanagar)

Average annual number of shoots per clump Period of shoot emergence

Bambusa balcooa

25  June-July 
Bambusa nutans 13 March-September
Bambusa pallida   41 July
Bambusa polymorpha 34 June-July
Bambusa tulda 17 May-July
Dendrocalamus giganteus 7 June-July
Dendrocalamus hamiltonii 52 July-September
Gigntochloa macrostachya 13 July
Melocanna bambusoides 90 July-August
Phyllostachys bambusoides 53

March-May

Harvesting Shoots - A good clump structure for plantations devoted to shoot production is in the ratio of 4:4:2, for the first, second and third years, respectively. In timber-cum-shoot plantations, as a thumb rule for plantations devoted to only shoot production, 50-60 percent of the shoots can be harvested every year.

A study on proximate composition of bamboos shoots conducted by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has shown following results:

Proximate composition

B.vulgaris
(green)

B.bamboos

B.balcooa

D.gigenteus

Moisture (%)

7.80

9.50

7.70

10.00

Crudeprotein(g/100g)

4.50

8.75

8.75

14.00

Crude fibre (%)

26.60

25.00

24.00

27.10

Total ash (%)

5.00

6.00

7.00

6.20

βcarotene(g/100g)

1540

1540

1540

1929

Calcium (mg/100g)

10.40

14.40

10.00

9.60

Magnesium (mg/100g)

-

-

-

-

Phosphorus (mg/100g)

0.06

0.04

0.02

0.03

Sodium (mg/100g)

1.15

0.60

0.80

1.00

Potassium (mg/100g)

1.48

1.82

1.94

1.35

Iron (mg/100g)

0.31

0.15

0.14

0.24

Copper (mg/100g)

0.01

0.02

0.02

0.02

Zinc (mg/100g)

0.29

0.12

0.26

0.16

Manganese(mg/100g)

0.19

0.23

0.26

0.17

Increasing shelf life of bamboo shoots

The shelf life of fresh bamboo shoots is limited, since biochemical changes take place rapidly after the shoot is harvested. Simple processing and packaging technologies can extend their shelf life and add value

Nylon Processing

In simplest form, shoots can be peeled, washed, soaked overnight and packed in flexible nylon based pouches along with water. The system can extend the shelf life for a period for 7-10 days if fresh water is used and 20-22 days if salt water is added.

Vacuum Processing

Vacuum processing of shoots can extend the shelf life by 5-6 months. The product has attributed like economics in production, transparency and hence enhanced looks, space economy.

Canned Processing

Complete processing of shoots into canned form can extend the shelf life by 2 years.

 

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