BIAJ launches bamboo-growing project in Trelawny
The Bamboo Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) is on a drive to have Jamaica benefit from this US$60-billion trade globally, with the launch of a bamboo-growing project in Hampden, Trelawny.
Kay Farquharson, secretary to the Hampden Community Development Committee (HCDC), which is spearheading the project, says the expectation is to have some 25 farmers involved.
The committee will facilitate their access to land, while training will be done in conjunction with the BIAJ.
“These local farmers, men and women, will be leased lands on which to plant bamboo. They will be trained in the cultivation, harvesting and the production of biomass and charcoal,” Farquharson told The Gleaner.
Director Gladstone Rose detailed the array of benefits from bamboo harvesting.
“We are in the process of marketing the growth of bamboo. It is beneficial in many ways. It is environmentally friendly. It take three years to mature and the charcoal produced from the biomass can be used in many ways,” Rose said.
Local telecommunications and entertainment firm Digicel, through its Digicel Foundation, has contributed $2 million in funding to help get the project started.
Rose reasoned that given the current war in Europe, this is a good time to move forward with the project as it provides benefits for farmers and (ensures) the country’s food security.
“The biochar mixed with a resin can be used in the manufacture of fertiliser. This is very important at this time with the war between Ukraine and Russia. The availability of fertilisers and grains has been greatly reduced. This is an opportunity for the country to reduce its dependency on imported fertiliser,” said Rose.
He noted that bamboo can also be compressed to make board to build houses without using steel.
“The BIAJ has a house at Denbigh showground built out of the board from compressed bamboo. One look at it and you would believe it is made of concrete. There is no steel in it and it is estimated to last 60 years,” he said.
Annabelle Williams, a Westmoreland resident who is heavily involved with a bamboo farm and a company that produces biochar and charcoal, says that the business is profitable.
“I am into the production of biochar for fertiliser and the charcoal. Just recently a hotel, on learning of my business, has given me a contract to sell them 1,500 kilogrammes of charcoal on a monthly basis,” shared Williams. “There is room for profit from an involvement in the production of bamboo and its by-products,” Williams said.