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Gov't standardising bamboo industry to spur investment — Hutchinson

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J C Hutchinson, has expressed a commitment to standardising the expanding bamboo industry in a way that encourages investment and safeguards protected bamboo spaces.

The minister, who was addressing a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (October 17), said a number of local and international investors have expressed interest in the sector, particularly in manufacturing products from bamboo and feeding into the value chain.

“We will, therefore, have to plan properly to have the bamboo – the raw material – to supply them. We are in the embryonic stages (with this industry) and are looking to see how we can develop this into a full-fledged economic enterprise that will drive agriculture and manufacturing,” he said. Hutchinson said the structures of the industry will involve the use of designated people to purchase the bamboo and supply it to the factories.

“In other words, it can't be all and everybody that is supplying it. It has to be persons who are registered, and we are going to have to make sure we have the traceability of that process. It has to be structured in such a way where we find where it is coming from and see it going directly to the factory,” he pointed out.

The minister said that appropriate structures are necessary to prevent areas such as Holland Bamboo from being cut to supply the market.

He informed that Chinese and American interests have indicated a willingness to invest in the sector, but noted that every effort will be made to ensure that investments include having manufacturing done locally.

“We are not going to be allowing anything to be going out to be processed. We need to have the processing done here; anybody who wants to invest, they must set up the factory here and not set it up anywhere else and then take out our bamboo,” he added.

The minister, in the meantime, said that he will be meeting with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Forestry Department in the upcoming week.

The discussions will pave the way for the development of a policy to guide the bamboo industry while protecting the country's natural resources.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in partnership with the Bureau of Standards Jamaica will be leading the staging of the first Caribbean International Bamboo Symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on November 27 and 28.

The event will cover a range of concerns and is being hosted under the theme 'Bamboo: An Economic High Value Chain Resource for the Caribbean'.

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