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Big Bamboo Project

Big bamboo project

Kitchen and facial towels, diapers, bed sheets likely from local product.

NEW YORK, USA — Jamaica is soon to have a vibrant industry using its abundance of little-regarded bamboo plants as the principal raw material — to produce a range of consumer items like kitchen and facial towels, bed sheets and diapers.

Jampro, the promotion and investment arm of the Jamaican Government, confirmed that “serious discussions” are underway with potential investors who envisage the island as a major contributor to the growing, worldwide bamboo industry.

“We are currently conducting discussions with potential investors on the matter and they have proven to be serious,” Diane Edwards, the Jampro president told the Jamaica Observer here.

“We are working closely with them, doing everything we can to facilitate their interests in investing in Jamaica,” said Edwards, who was in New York last week to attend the reopening of the long-shuttered Jampro office.

Edwards’ disclosure corroborated earlier information from the British Department for International Development (DFID) at a recent luncheon for senior journalists hosted by British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad in Kingston.

Caribbean Bamboo Pulp and Paper, or Caribamboo appeared to be the front-runner among potential investors in the planned bamboo industry. Chief Executive Officer David Stedeford will be in Jamaica this month for talks with local partners, just ahead of what is expected to be a project launch next month.

Caribamboo represents several big players in the field of pulp and paper engineering, manufacturing, and marketing, its media and communications officer, Layla May, said in an e-mail response to the Observer.

“The concept 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 [then] processed on the same site in a world-scale pulp mill using state-of-the-art technology,” she said.

The pulp from the bamboo will then be sold to multinational corporations which are engaged in producing consumer tissue merchandise-like kitchen and facial towels, diapers and a range of other consumer products.

“Upon the project’s launch a detailed scope will be presented together with a time frame on construction of the mill and further development,” May added.

Coinciding with the proposed launch is 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’.

Manufacturers of bamboo-based products are boasting that they can produce 100 per cent bamboo bed sheets that are twice as soft as cotton and which feature a durable twill weave.

Said one leading manufacturer, Cariloha: “By turning self-replenishing bamboo fields into crazy-soft bamboo fabrics, Cariloha offers an exclusive collection of bedding, apparel, active wear, bath goods, and accessories made from soft, cool, clean and green bamboo.

“Inspired by the essence and energy of the islands, Cariloha blends style and self-expression into every piece of clothing and bedding it makes. Special care is taken to drape customers in soft, comfortable, naturally breathable bamboo fabrics that leave them experiencing tranquil days in paradise, time and time again.”

Cariloha said it has a growing fleet of stores in 16 countries.

— Additional reporting by Desmond Allen

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