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Bamboo project to get under way in Peckham

Published:Thursday | June 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMShanique Samuels
In this file photo supplied by Bureau of Standards Jamaica, bamboo splits are constructed into a pile for burning to create charcoal on October 6, 2012.

PECKHAM, Clarendon:

THE SMALL rural community of Peckham in North East Clarendon is set to benefit significantly from the start of a bamboo project scheduled to begin next month.

The objective of the Peckham Bamboo Project is to implement a sustainable bamboo industry that will provide employment as well as improve the socio-economic standards of its citizens. A major part of the project will be the growing, management and cultivation of bamboo plantations on 40 hectares of idle lands, which is calculated to provide employment for 80 young people. Ten of the positions will be permanent.

Jobs are expected to be created through the three proposed value chains: bamboo charcoal, bamboo lumber/wood products, and bamboo edible products.

Andrew Carty, chairman of the Peckham Development Committee, said, when fully implemented, the project will result in direct agro-processing and tourism linkages. "We believe that the justification of the programme was based on the geographical location, topography of the area, tourism and export potential. We are happy that most of the stakeholders bought into the idea, as neighbouring communities such as Tweedside, John's Hall and Grantham are also set to benefit from this programme," Carty told Rural Xpress.

Professor Winston Davidson, chairman of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), said the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, continues to focus on the great potential of bamboo to help build the economy through the development of a new, viable and sustainable bamboo industry. "The BSJ has been working on developing the necessary standards to ensure consistency and quality of the bamboo products so that they can be exported globally."

Member of Parliament Richard Azan said at the launch of the project last week that it is likely to be a model for other similar bamboo projects across the island. "The erection of the bamboo pre-processing and bamboo charcoal facilities will be done right here in this rural community."

The by-products of bamboo include organic bamboo charcoal, cosmetics such as lotions and soaps, as well as nutraceutical products.

Plans are also already in place for an annual bamboo show.