Govt Urged to Speed up Development of Bamboo Industry

Story Highlights

  • Senator Norman Grant, who made the call in the Senate on January 17, 2014 said that this should be done through a mix of policy initiatives, farmer and investor participation.
  • “I am also making a call that the Forestry Department give greater focus to the development of the bamboo industry,” Senator Grant said.
  • Jamaica has over 67,000 hectares of bamboo, 99 per cent of which is the bambusa vulgaris variety, which is one of the largest and most easily recognised.

The Government is being urged to accelerate the development of a local bamboo industry to tap into the lucrative global market for the environmentally-friendly product, which is estimated to reach US$20 billion by 2015.

Senator Norman Grant, who made the call in the Senate yesterday (January 17), said that this should be done through a mix of policy initiatives, farmer and investor participation.

He proposed the development of a pilot bamboo finished product factory as an initial step leading to an established industrial zone for bamboo products.

“We must be aware of the larger opportunity provided by our advantageous location and enhanced by our intention to establish a logistics hub in Jamaica,” he stated.

Senator Grant, who was opening debate on a private member’s motion calling for the development of the bamboo industry, also recommended the launch of a major education and training campaign outlining the characteristics and possible uses of bamboo.

“The Government, through the Ministries of (Industry), Investment and Commerce; and Agriculture (and Fisheries), should explore the establishment of a technical cooperation programme to train and develop Jamaica bamboo farmers and technical workers for bamboo processing,” he posited.

He also called on the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to redefine, with immediate effect, the classification of bamboo as an invasive species.

“I am also making a call that the Forestry Department give greater focus to the development of the bamboo industry,” Senator Grant said.

Senator Angela Brown Burke, in her contribution to the motion, pointed to the economic potential of bamboo.

“One bamboo pole could be sold for US$2…but when we can go further up the value chain and look at floorboards that are made from that single pole we are now talking of US$30. So, we have to begin to understand the potential that exists and not look at just growing bamboo but going all the way up the value chain,” she stated.

A 2005 study by the Philippine Bamboo Development Council put the world demand for bamboo products at US$10 billion, with an estimate that this could reach US$20 billion by next year.

Jamaica has over 67,000 hectares of bamboo, 99 per cent of which is the bambusa vulgaris variety, which is one of the largest and most easily recognised.

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) has established the Bamboo and Indigenous Materials Advisory Council to drive the development of standards, and pilot the initial phase of the development of a bamboo industry in Jamaica.

The motion was amended and approved, to urge the Government to strengthen the Council to consider mutual areas of cooperation that would lead to the establishment of Jamaica as a central hub for the production of finished high value products to be marketed in North and South America.

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