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BIAJ launches Bamboo-growing Project in Trelawny – Jamaica

Credit: The Gleaner Wester Bureau | July 27, 2022 | 12:08 AM Leon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

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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 production of biomass and charcoal,” Farquharson told The Gleaner.

Director Gladstone Rose detailed the array of benefits of bamboo harvesting.

“We are in the process of marketing the growth of bamboo. It is beneficial in many ways. It is environmentally friendly. It takes 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 an excellent 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 to manufacture fertilizer. This is very important at this time with the war between Ukraine and Russia. The availability of fertilizers and grains has been greatly reduced. This is an opportunity for the country to reduce its dependency on imported fertilizer,” said Rose.

He noted that bamboo can also be compressed to make boards 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 fertilizer and charcoal. Just recently a hotel, on learning of my business, has given me a contract to sell them 1,500 kilograms 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.

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