Bamboo might not ordinarily sound like sexy news, but it is about to become so, given plans for the imminent launch of what is hoped to be a vibrant bamboo industry producing, among other consumer items, kitchen and facial towels, bed sheets, and diapers.
Over many years Jamaicans have talked about developing a bamboo industry, but the most spectacular thing we have done with bamboo, it would seem, was using it as an attraction in Holland Bamboo, St Elizabeth.
Jampro, the promotion and investment arm of the Jamaican Government and the British Department for International Development (DFID), have separately confirmed that credible efforts are underway to engage with potential investors to establish Jamaica as a major contributor to the fast-growing world bamboo industry.
“We are currently conducting discussions with potential investors on the matter, and they have proven to be serious,” Ms Diane Edwards, the Jampro president told the Jamaica Observer.
“We are working closely with them, doing everything we can to facilitate their interests in investing in Jamaica,” said Ms Edwards, who was in New York last week to attend the reopening of the Jampro office.
According to an article in Monday’s edition of this newspaper, a company called Caribbean Bamboo Pulp and Paper, or Caribamboo, appeared to be the front-runner among potential investors in the planned bamboo industry.
We are likely to hear more details following the planned visit of Caribamboo’s Chief Executive Officer David Stedeford later this month and just ahead of what is expected to be the project launch in November.
As a sign of how serious the players are, the proposed launch is to coincide with a three-day Caribbean International Bamboo Symposium which is being staged in Jamaica under the theme ‘Bamboo: An Economic High Value Chain Resource for the Caribbean’.
Caribamboo represents several big players in the field of pulp and paper, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing, we are told. The plan is to farm bamboo on a large scale at a site yet to be determined.
The bamboo will then be harvested on a managed and progressive basis, processed on the same site, in a world-scale pulp mill using state-of-the-art technology. The pulp from the bamboo will then be sold to multi-national corporations which are engaged in producing consumer tissue merchandise, like kitchen, facial towels diapers, and a range of other consumer products.
One of the exciting prospects is that from bamboo pulp can come drinking straws, which would be good news for those engaged in the fight to save this planet from being suffocated by non-reusable plastic.
Some manufacturers are offering bamboo fabrics such as bedding, apparel, activewear, bath goods, and accessories made from “soft, cool, clean and green bamboo”.
Jamaica will not be short of sites for growing bamboo in sufficient quantities. There are, for example, vast acreages of sugar lands that are increasingly becoming unproductive. And, critically, there is a ready market for the products.
It is envisaged that the investors will be buying bamboo from small growers. In this regard, we would caution against buying from people who can’t show themselves to be bona fide growers.
We would not like to see the exquisite avenue of bamboos in Holland Bamboo savaged by these parasites, similar to what happened in the scrap metal trade.