Bamboo industry association launched in Jamaica


Industry, Investment, and Commerce State Minister, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams (right), is shown a bag of organic charcoal by Bamboo Industry Association (BIA) President, Robert Rainford, while admiring items manufactured locally from bamboo.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday November 5, 2015 – The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) have partnered to establish the country’s first ever Bamboo Industry Association (BIA).

The BIA forms part of collaborations between the Ministry and private sector stakeholders to engage and heighten awareness among owners of properties with bamboo, about the potential economic values to be derived from the plant, of which there are over 65,000 hectares of growing islandwide.

Industry, Investment, and Commerce State Minister Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, in her address at the launch ceremony at the Knutsford Court Hotel, said the body is “critical . . . to the bamboo industry’s growth and development.”

Noting that “bamboo is big business,” the State Minister contended that it presents “many new opportunities . . . not only for . . . growers, but also for producers and manufacturers.”

“Many . . . products can be created for both the domestic and export markets,” she said, adding that “there are ample opportunities for bamboo products to be traded in niche local and overseas markets.”

Notable among the derivable by-products, the State Minister indicated, are: mats, tables, chairs, stools, sofas, various baskets and craft items, and organic charcoal, which she said persons can utilize to generate their own incomes.

“I believe that we have, on the horizon, something very big . . . and that we will be successful. I predict that Jamaica will be one of the very noteworthy countries in the growing and production of bamboo materials,” she said.

In this regard, Ffolkes-Abrahams encouraged further strengthening of the public-private partnerships to “continue on our mission to build . . . the industry”.

“We have the potential to significantly boost our economy and generate employment and, in so doing, contribute to local economic development. I . . . pledge our Ministry’s continued support and facilitation of this,” she added.

For his part, SBAJ president Hugh Johnson, in describing the launch as a “momentous and historic occasion”, said he was “thrilled” by the collaboration that has been forged.

“We believe in changing the nation . . . so we are here to make an impactful difference in the lives of the average citizen of this country,” he added.

BIA president Robert Rainford advised that over 50 persons have already expressed interest in joining the association, adding that “we are hoping that, now that we have launched, we will continue to see growth.”

He further indicated that BIA representatives will be travelling across the country “to ensure that we protect what we have” in terms of bamboo cultivations, “and reap them properly, (so) that the industry will grow and develop.”

Other speakers included BSJ Chairman, Professor Winston Davidson; and Director of Special Projects, and Chairman, Bamboo and Indigenous Materials Advisory Committee (BIMAC), Gladstone Rose.

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