Jamaica is now set to enter bamboo production on a commercial basis, having gained entry as the 38th member to the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR).
Jamaica already produces furniture and household items from bamboo, much of which is done by informal craft traders, but the new program is meant to devise more hardy and quality products.
The plant grows prolifically throughout Jamaica.
Gladstone Rose, chairman of the Bamboo industry Advisory Committee at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), said Thursday that INBAR membership gives Jamaica access to technology transfer models and other documents that the agency can use to guide private companies to develop bamboo prototypes.
The prototypes include bamboo plywood, bamboo tiles, bamboo board, bamboo students chairs and other engineered bamboo products using the most prolific local variety of bamboo, Bambusa vulgaris.
“The team has successfully produced bamboo products prototypes but now seek venture capital to supply already identified markets locally and in the United States of America,” Rose told Sunday Business.
The BSJ work is focused initially on Glengoffe, where training sessions using the INBAR material has been under way since April. The workshops will span two years.
INBAR is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in China, comprising countries that have bamboo or rattan resources in quantities that can be commercialized.
Through its network of member countries, organizations and individuals from all continents of the world, INBAR develops and assists in the transfer of appropriate technologies and solutions to benefit the peoples of the world and their environment,” said Rose.
“Information on 122 Chinese bamboo and rattan products/process standards have been received which will help the BSJ and bamboo products producers rapidly develop Jamaican standards and ultimately create a modern standards-led bamboo products industry,” he said.
The BSJ earlier this year was designated by the Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce to be the focal point for INBAR in Jamaica.
“The Government of Jamaica recognizes that bamboo is a valuable renewable resource which grows rapidly and therefore is a good substitute source for wood instead of timber, obtained by cutting down trees which takes on average 40 years to grow to maturity,” Rose said.
The Bamboo Industry Advisory Committee, which he heads, was set up by the BSJ to oversee the development of pilot projects, studies and product prototypes.
The committee also plans to publish its own guidance documents for use of the new bamboo industry that Jamaica expects to emerge from the INBAR project.
“Such documents will prescribe standards, policies and ethical practices for the industry,” Rose said.
The standards-led industry is to be developed over a two-year period. The project incorporates entities such as the state-run Forestry Department and the Jamaica Wood Products and Furniture Association representing private operators.
Rose said bamboo manufactured products will include school furniture, including desks and chairs, while bamboo plywood will be used to make doors, skirting and moldings.
Bamboo was first introduced in Jamaica to strengthen riverbanks. A Forestry Department count in 2000 found that the plant covered more than 44,000 hectares nationwide. Today, Rose says there are 47,000 hectares of bamboo growing wild.
Around 1999-2000, according to the Lewis-Nelson paper, the Forestry Department, backed by private sponsorship, imported and erected a “bamboo-concrete house” using material and technical resources from Costa Rica.
“It generated much interest from a wide variety of persons, groups and institutions, but has not realized the desired effect of utilizing local bamboo for low-cost housing on a large scale,” the paper said.
Market leader China has developed its bamboo industry into a US $14-billion enterprise, of which US $2-billion worth of products is exported to the West, according to Rose.
“The value of Jamaican manufacture is minuscule by comparison,” said the BSJ executive. “We are trying to create a new industry.”
(Excerpt of article by Avia Collinder, of The Gleaner. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)
Lamboo is a manufacturer of laminated veneer bamboo (LVB) for structural and interior design applications. Lamboo can be utilized in a variety of products and systems from window & door units, curtain wall systems, industrial shipping containers to table tops and yacht interiors. Lamboo materials can be used as a substitute to traditional wood in nearly every application as a rapidly renewable and sustainable alternative. The strength of bamboo has lead to it being referred to as ‘vegetable steel’ with a tensile strength of 28,000 per square inch.
Bamboo has long been revered for its enormous potential as a building product but is only now starting to be fully utilized. That is something very exciting and will play a huge role in the future.
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