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Bamboo cost in India

By Abhijit Phadke

For the past few days, I have been thinking of making some custom-made bamboo furniture for my home. This thought process probably started when last month in Nov-2012, I paid a visit to the arts and handicrafts exhibition at Urban Haat, near CBD-Belapur railway station in Navi Mumbai, and happened to chance upon some nice looking bamboo furniture over there.

It was a beautiful dark-coloured sofa set and center table made completely from bamboo. The quoted costs for these pieces were in the range of Rs. 20000-28000. I thought that the furniture looked beautiful but it was too costly, and moreover I was not interested in buying a sofa-set. I was rather interested in having a nice bamboo book shelf for keeping all my books.

Bamboo poles used by painters lying around near a building in Navi Mumbai, India.

A few days later I noticed some bamboo poles lying around near a building that was being painted. Also nearby was a 'Mandap decorator' moving some bamboo poles around. So I casually enquired about the cost of the bamboo poles. Now what I had originally expected was that the cost of bamboo would be in Rs. per feet, but that's not exactly how it works.

As per the information given by the Mandap decorator, bamboo poles are available in 16' (16 feet) and 24' (24 feet) lengths, and the approximate cost of one 16' bamboo pole would be Rs.80 or so, and that straighter bamboo poles cost more. He said I should try acquiring the poles from a timber mart.

That same evening I visited a timber mart, and the information I got there was that bamboo poles of 18' and 20' are available, and the quoted cost of bamboo was Rs.110 per 18 feet pole.

I think only a few such poles (total price will be approx. Rs.500 to 600) would be sufficient for making furniture. And furthermore I don't mind using a combination of bamboo and plywood for making my bookshelf.

Comparing the material cost of bamboo and the ready-made furniture cost, I think that the rates of bamboo furniture in India are still quite exorbitant. Of course this is assuming that these bamboo poles found in the timber mart can be suitably worked upon using some engineering skills. Now that still remains to be seen, and is a topic for another article.