Regional

Bamboo industry will boost rural economies, says Ffolkes-Abrahams

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter IRWIN, St James

Thursday, April 10, 2014    

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MINISTER of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams has expressed optimism that a bamboo industry being pursued by Government, will bring economic prosperity to rural communities.

"The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is working on a bamboo project. I am particularly working on that project for Jamaica and on the 14th of April we are expecting to see members of the Chinese Government here with us and we are going to have a mini conference on bamboo," Ffolkes-Abrahams disclosed.

"It's a very important product and I look around and I see the use of bamboo and I am very proud of it because this is a way forward for rural development in Jamaica."

Underscoring the vast economic returns to be derived from craft items produced from the indigenous bamboo, Ffolkes-Abrahams, who is also Member of Parliament for West Central St James, contended that much more can be done with the plant in Jamaica.

"It can do a lot more than what we are using it for. It is known worldwide and it can be used as stir sticks in coffee... so we can actually earn foreign exchange with the use of bamboo," she explained.

She was speaking last at the official opening of the recently upgraded $23 million Rastafari Indigenous Village, located at Irwin, St James.

Ffolkes-Abraham promised that the Rastafari Indigenous Village, which is already creating craft items with the use of bamboo, will get a piece of the action when the proposed bamboo industry materialises.

"So here we have an industry already in waiting right here and I am going to say, as part of what we are doing, the Rastafari Village here... we are going to make a part of this bamboo industry," she stressed.

The upgrade of the Rastafari Indigenous Village attraction is a joint undertaking between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), which provided $19.5 million in funding through the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), and the Rastafari Africa Hall Benevolent Society (RAHBS), which contributed $4 million.

The objective of the project is to assist the RAHBS to improve marketing and capacity building, as well as to enhance visitor experience of the Rastafari Indigenous Village tour.

Another component of the project was infrastructure improvement. These works included the construction of a 50-square metre museum; construction of 3 x 18 square metres cabins; construction of 14 square meters restroom; rehabilitation of 18 square meters kitchen; rehabilitation of 36 square meters Solomonic mall; rehabilitation of 80 square metres yoga centre (spa); rehabilitation of 10 square meters restroom and rehabilitation of three square meters display booths.

Signage and equipment such as a computer, multi-purpose printer/scanner/ fax/copy machine, business management software, projector and projector screen were also funded under the programme.

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