Jamaica is well on its way to operating the first and only dedicated Bamboo Market Pulp Mill in the Western Hemisphere according to Bamboo Bioproducts Ltd. (BBP).
The Group have advanced their investment in local bamboo with plans to build on lands in Frome, Westmoreland and will focus on pulp for paper production. Currently, Asian manufacturers are the primary producers in the US$24 billion global bamboo market which fuels a variety of industries including paper manufacturing, agriculture, health & wellness, construction, textiles, and furniture among others. Jamaica’s proximity to Western markets as well as its deep history in sugar cane production, (which has strong similarities to growing bamboo), means that BBP’s Frome facility offers game-changing national economic development opportunities. BBP anticipates that 500 jobs will be created directly within the facility and up to 5000 jobs indirectly. The company has conservative projections of generating $USD1.5 billion in revenue during the first 10 years.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in emphasizing the importance of this project to Jamaica’s economy said,
“Investments like these, anchored on a sustainable environmental and economic model, point us in a strategic direction as a country in relation to how we might rethink our development. This is an example of what is needed to help drive growth in our economy. The use of bamboo and its bi products has the capacity to be a catalyst in building a new sustainable industry by utilizing the value that Jamaica can provide with arable lands, availability of skilled and semi-skilled labour as well as our ideal geographic location for logistics. I applaud and welcome this group for responding, through this initiative, to the government’s continued call for the take-up of former sugar lands for the planting of alternative and more economically viable crops.”
Frome’s vast expanse of arable land and infrastructure, as well as its geographic features were deciding factors in its selection for the BBP mill site. The area provides a heritage of strong agricultural traditions and has a reliable ecosystem for bamboo production due to ample rainfall and fertile soil. The project promises to revitalise local communities by ushering in a new generation in farming which offers employment opportunities in a globally recognised sustainable industry.
Bamboo will be farmed on a large scale in Westmoreland as well as smaller farms across Jamaica to satisfy the mill’s annual demand for over 1 million tonnes of green Vulgaris bamboo – thereby supporting the transition of idle sugar cane lands to bamboo cultivation. BBP is therefore working closely with Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Limited to finalise the necessary lands and is also in talks with private landowners to supplement their land demand.
“This project has the full support of the Government of Jamaica and the provision of land, for the siting of the mill and the cultivation of bamboo, is a priority project for SCJ Holdings Limited, as it will enhance the country’s foreign exchange earnings and provide a lifeline for the thousands of persons who have suffered from the decline of the sugar industry,” said Joseph Shoucair, Managing Director at SCJ Holdings Limited
JAMPRO, who is the lead facilitator for the project has been working closely with the relevant government agencies to ensure a smooth investment and execution process. According to JAMPRO President Diane Edwards,
“This project embodies all the characteristics of a well-planned, public private sector project. It will go a long way in helping to move the economy forward, getting us closer to hitting our projected Foreign Direct Investment targets. It has our full support.”