Jamaica News: The burgeoning local bamboo and castor oil industries are to be included in the Agriculture Push-Start (APS) programme, as part of plans to capitalise on the value chain of these crops.
Castor oil is to be added to the programme by the end of the year and bamboo is to be included at a later date.
This was announced by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, during his address at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Agricultural Development Stakeholders Forum on August 21 at the Richmond Gap Church of God of Prophecy, St. Thomas.
Mr. Hutchinson disclosed that the planting of the castor bean will begin in earnest by the end of the year, as Jamaica seeks to tap into the multibillion-dollar industry.
The product is used primarily in the pharmaceutical industry as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; in cosmetic applications; and in the manufacture of high-grade lubricants and biodiesel fuel.
The Minister further informed that interest has already been expressed by an international investor in establishing a bamboo-processing facility on the island.
Pointing to the variety of bamboo-derived products, Mr. Hutchinson said the Government is taking steps to develop the industry, noting that a committee has been formed with the purpose of examining the tenets of establishing the sector.
“We are looking to formalise the growing of bamboo. This committee is going to collaborate with all stakeholders to see how we can get the establishment of the bamboo industry going by next year,” he informed.
Among the bamboo-derived products are: bridges, chairs, lamps, tissue, paper and cups.
Mr. Hutchinson noted that bamboo can be used as an alternative to plastic which he said will assist in solving the problem of the overproduction of plastic, which has a negative impact on the environment.
The APS Programme was launched in 2017, with the aim of increasing the production of Irish potato, onions and Scotch bonnet peppers.
It is also geared at giving a start to persons who want to pursue agriculture as a business.
Source: JIS News