Efforts ongoing to ensure Jamaica benefits from bamboo industry

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Efforts ongoing to ensure Jamaica benefits from bamboo industry

Monday, January 20, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Dr Omer Thomas, senior advisor to the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, says efforts are ongoing to ensure that Jamaica reaps maximum returns from the bamboo industry.

“We are at point now where we can say that we are observing tangible results from the effort. What the bamboo can do for Jamaica, we have not heard the half, especially with the stridency in eliminating plastic and styrofoam. Bamboo offers that potential to solving the problem,” Dr Thomas said.

He was speaking at a seminar on bamboo leaves held on January 16 at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), in St Andrew.

Dr Thomas said the Government has enacted policies for the use of bamboo in both industrial development and agricultural production.

“The Government has rearranged the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) so that there would be a unit led by a specialist officer for industrial crops, so that bamboo will have the technical leadership. Those are significant steps to support the development of any fledging industry,” he said.

In recent years, innovations in bamboo processing have seen bamboo becoming a legally approved building material across the Andean countries of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

In addition, industrial development in Asia has resulted in domestic bamboo sectors in countries such as India and China growing in value to US$4 billion and US$32 billion, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Bamboo in Construction Working Group has developed a concept paper for the improvement of the Holland Bamboo Grove in St Elizabeth, using the standards developed by the Bamboo Products Standards Technical Committee of the BSJ.

Holland bamboo (also known as Bamboo Avenue) is a heritage site and one of Jamaica's tourist attractions, which is said to be the most photographed place in the island.

In 2012, Jamaica became the 38th member of the International Organization for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in 2012. The group now has 42 members.

The country has also developed bamboo charcoal and charcoal products, bamboo pulp, paper, packaging materials and textiles, bamboo building and furniture production.

Jamaica has also exported over 85,000 pounds of bamboo charcoal to the United States, the Cayman Islands and St Maarten.

In addition, Jamaica has established some 14 prototypes for various bamboo by-products, including a charcoal kiln, charcoal for cooking purposes, charcoal water filter, lumber, ketchup, stylus for smartphones and tablet computers, body wash, soaps, and stretcher for carrying the sick.

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