Farmers and Stakeholders Welcome Bamboo Investment in Westmoreland
Stakeholders including community members and farmers in Westmoreland are welcoming a multimillion US dollar investment that will see the cultivation of farmlands with bamboo for export in the parish.
“It is something that I have long awaited. As it relates to the co-operatives, which they mentioned, I’m in support of this as some farmers will not have sufficient acreage in growing the bamboo but in small groups, this would be achievable,” said Hopeton Bailey, chairman of the Grange Hill Community Development Committee noting that it will have a positive impact on the economy and the parish.
Barrington Taylor, conservation officer in the parish said it is a good initiative as it would employ persons in the parish. Westmoreland in recent times has been rocked by an escalating crime rate.
“I think it is a good initiative in terms of providing employment and as something new. We have a lot of wild bamboo in and around Jamaica and we see it as invasive. It has been used in construction and by farmers, especially the yam farmers but having it where it can be harvested, I think it is an opportunity and is a way of controlling the spreading of bamboo in areas where it is not desirable,” he pointed.
Did you know? At Bamboo Bioproducts, our bamboo species we are farming (that is resident in Jamaica) is genetically incapable of spreading without control, so it is non-invasive. Read more about this here.
Denver Thorpe, regional manager for the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) said it is a new venture that can create relief for cane farmers who have been displaced.
There has been a decline in sugar production in the parish, which has been affected by a myriad of issues, including the loss of millions to the illicit burning of cane fields and the failure to attract young talent to the sector.
“The cane farmers who have the lands can utilise the project and use it as another source of income, that’s from the local side. I think from the industry side, it can be a great benefit to the country in terms of increasing our exports. There is a lot of spin off to be had from it from a local and international standpoint. I think it is a good move,” he said.
Errol Stewart, principal of Grange Hill High School is enthusiastic about the project which he believes will be beneficial to his institution as his students will be able to do school tours.
“I am super excited about the value of this project, which will be beneficial to Westmoreland. From a school’s standpoint, I have already started the discussion where our students will be doing onsite visits to be part of this project in terms of observation. We will have School Based Assessment (SBA) projects at an early stage,” he informed.
In terms of the larger community, he said this will be valuable, especially to young persons as it will offer another alternative source of employment.
David Stedeford, founder and chief executive officer of Bamboo Bioproducts International at a meeting with the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce recently disclosed that the project is expected to generate approximately 1,000 direct jobs and in excess of 5,000 indirect jobs.
He informed that there are also plans to reinvest in the community with the establishment of a community fund, which will be used to support community projects such as educational or health-related to improve the community.