Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Bamboo goes commercial in Peckham

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2015 | 8:00 AM

The farming district of Peckham in the hills of northwest Clarendon took one more step towards economic diversification on Tuesday with the signing of a $15-million Organization of American States (OAS) grant for training of personnel and the development of a viable bamboo industry in the area.

Fifteen persons are to be trained who will, in turn, train others in the area of bamboo production and processing.

Projections are that by 2018, the project will be producing and exporting at least one bamboo by-product - bamboo charcoal.

This will see 40 acres of land under production with training and employment of 80 persons.

"This project is a 'low hanging fruit' that has the potential to provide immediate employment. It was, therefore, selected due to its potential to mitigate unemployment through the creation of small businesses as well as providing employment opportunities," said deputy director general, economic

policy planning and logistics at the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Richard Lumsden, who says its objectives resonate with the goals of Jamaica's Vision 2030.

Chairman of the Peckham Development Committee, Andrew Carty, says the community expects the project to improve the rural district's economic well-being.

"Through this project, also, we expect to see a curtailment of the rural-urban drift. We expect that the citizens of Jamaica will be more appreciative of locally produced goods and we expect that this project will be so successful that it will be replicated across Jamaica," Carty said.

Production has not yet started but project originator, Member of Parliament Richard Azan, is insisting that the Peckham bamboo project should begin by late September.

Peckham is the second such bamboo project in Jamaica. The programme has so far received $1.4 million of funding from the Chinese government, covering equipment and training. Another $10 million is expected from the National Housing Trust to complete the start-up phase of the programme.

The OAS funding comes under its 2015-2017 programme cycle, which is focused on the theme 'Social Development and Creation of Productive Employment'.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com