Gov't seeks to formalise bamboo industry

Monday, October 22, 2018

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MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries J C Hutchinson has expressed a commitment to formalising the expanding bamboo industry in a way that encourages investment and safeguards protected bamboo spaces.

The minister, who was addressing a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday last, said a number of local and international investors have expressed interest in the sector, particularly in manufacturing products from bamboo and feeding into the value chain.

“We will, therefore, have to plan properly to have the bamboo — the raw material – to supply them. We are in the embryonic stages (with this industry) and are looking to see how we can develop this into a full-fledged economic enterprise that will drive agriculture and manufacturing,” he said.

His comments come a month ahead of the first Caribbean International Bamboo Symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, scheduled for November 27 and 28. The event, being staged by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in partnership with the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, is being hosted under the theme 'Bamboo: An Economic High Value Chain Resource for the Caribbean'.

Hutchinson said the regulations of the industry will involve the use of designated groups and/or organisations to purchase bamboo and supply it to the factories.

“In other words, it can't be all and everybody that is supplying it. It has to be persons who are registered, and we are going to have to make sure we have the traceability of that process. It has to be structured in such a way where we find where it is coming from and see it going directly to the factory,” he pointed out.

The minister said that appropriate structures are necessary to prevent areas such as Holland Bamboo from being cut to supply the market.

He informed that Chinese and American interests have indicated a willingness to invest in the sector, but noted that every effort will be made to ensure that investments include having manufacturing done locally.

“We are not going to be allowing anything to be going out to be processed. We need to have the processing done here; anybody who wants to invest, they must set up the factory here and not set it up anywhere else and then take out our bamboo,” he added.

The minister, in the meantime, told JIS News that he will be meeting with the National Environment and Planning Agency and the Forestry Department in the upcoming week. The discussions will pave the way for the development of a policy to guide the bamboo industry while protecting the country's natural resources.

Other partners for the upcoming symposium are the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization, Tourism Enhancement Fund, Bamboo Industry Association of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.

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