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Investment Ministry eyes Jockey factory for bamboo production

Published:Saturday | January 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The Jockey factory in Lucea, Hanover.-File

Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:The Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce is putting plans in place to utilise the 56,000 square feet of floor space at the former Jockey International garment factory at the Haughton Industrial Estate in Lucea, Hanover.

Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, state minister in the Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce told Western Focus earlier this week. According to the minister, the facility will be opened in the near future and established as a bamboo factory, as part of her ministry's efforts to satisfy increasing demand in the United States for bamboo charcoal.

"We have established the first bamboo kiln in Pembroke Hall, Guys Hill, St Mary and we are also looking at establishing one in Hanover at one of the Factories Corporation of Jamaica's properties. It is being refurbished to be opened within the first quarter of 2015," she said.

At present, she said the ministry had received orders from the United States valuing US$12 million for bamboo charcoal from Jamaica. She said adding the Jockey factory as a second facility, would improve Jamaica's ability to meet the demand for the bamboo charcoal.

Ffolkes-Abrahams said in addition to bamboo charcoal, her ministry would be looking at earning from other by-products of bamboo, including furniture and authentic Jamaican memorabilia for sale to tourists.

"We are looking to maximise the use of bamboo. We have it as an indigenous material in this country we are looking at the tourism industry as well, to make bamboo craft because the tourist don't want to come and buy something that somebody else has bought from another country and is selling it back to them here," she said.

good for the environment

"There is medicinal use for bamboo so we have been exploring that as well, use for furniture and housing and there is also use for bamboo in terms of building structures - scaffolding its very strong - stronger than wood - it is very good environmentally as it sequesters carbon dioxide from the air, and so cleans the air for us, so it is good for mitigating climate change," she added.

The Jockey International factory was closed in November 2008 and at the time left 575 people jobless. Back then, the company said the closure of that plant was linked to the shutdown of its Cooleemee facilities in North Carolina, USA which supplied it with fabric.

For many years, the 56,000 square feet Lucea plant was rated number one of Jockey factories worldwide, in terms of quality and productivity. The success of the Lucea plant led the company to acquire another plant in neighbouring Sandy Bay.