Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Local bamboo tomato ketchup now available

Published:Wednesday | December 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

JIS:As the Government moves to further the development of the bamboo industry, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is currently encouraging investors to take advantage of the commercial opportunities of byproducts in the sector.

Already, there is organic bamboo charcoal on the market, and the latest innovation is bamboo tomato ketchup, which was developed by a recent university graduate and head of Jamdun' Food Processing, Chevaughn Bowen. Several other value-added products are being looked at by the Bamboo and Indigenous Materials Advisory Council (BIMAC), spearheaded by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ). Bowen said he got the idea to make the bamboo tomato ketchup while in discussion with director of special projects at the BSJ, Gladstone Rose, who heads the Government's bamboo programme.

He then went to China to have a firsthand look at that country's bamboo industry and to do further expert research on the properties in edible bamboo shoots. After he returned, he began producing the bamboo ketchup, which is available locally. The young innovator, who copped the 2010 Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) top prize for his hot and spicy barbi-fry sauce, says young people who have innovative business ideas should ensure that they are written and placed in the marketplace for development.

Ideas and implementation

"Idea on paper is no idea at all. Putting a prototype together, and trying to get it out there in the market is best. Your idea sitting on paper, it makes no sense. I believe that everybody coming from university should have that state of mind, to become innovative," he said. For the state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, bamboo ketchup is the first of its kind in the world, offering a number of vitamins.

"This is one of the products for diversification, our own bamboo indigenous ketchup. There are several things that we can do with bamboo... there is bamboo pharmaceutical, the bamboo charcoal, bamboo flooring, furniture, bamboo to feed animals, and the bamboo fabric that is in demand, fetching a high price on the world market," she said. She was speaking at the recent opening of the first bamboo charcoal factory in Pembroke Hall, St Mary.

"We are looking at the tourism industry, because instead of buying and selling things from other countries to our tourists, we can give them authentic Jamaican products, made in Jamaica. That is what people want when they come on a vacation," Ffolkes-Abrahams said. Meanwhile, export development manager at JAMPRO, Marlene Porter, says the bamboo ketchup will be showcased at an upcoming business show in Montego Bay.