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Growth & Jobs | Westmoreland welcomes BBI’s $60B investment

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2023 | 12:27 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
David Stedeford, chief executive officer, Bamboo Bioproducts International.
David Stedeford, chief executive officer, Bamboo Bioproducts International.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

MOSES CHYBAR, head of Westmoreland’s commerce and industry lobby has welcomed an investment of approximately $60 billion by Bamboo Bioproducts International (BBI).

He said the proposed establishment of a bamboo pulp mill will revolutionise the prospects of the parish’s production capabilities and cause an economic revival.

“This is a welcome investment. It will certainly restore hope among the residents of the parish, as it will provide employment opportunities, a critical component required to help residents restore some semblance of hope,” said Chybar.

“This is an industry that will provide close to 1,000 sustainable jobs and countless opportunities for farmers to earn directly through the planting of bamboo as part of the supply chain. We now need to grab the opportunity with both hands and make the best use of it,” he continued.

Davis Stedeford, chief executive officer of Bamboo Bioproducts, confirmed the details of the arrangement at a public consultation on the environmental impact assessment of the project, held in the parish recently.He told stakeholders that the manufacturing side of their business will be operating year round and will need an adequate number of workers.

“We are investing $60 billion in Westmoreland and obviously, that will have a big impact on this country,” Stedeford noted.

“It is going to reside here and the most important thing is, it provides sustainable employment, which is critical; and that’s what is important to you, to us and across the globe because you (Jamaica) are not the only country that is suffering from the demise of sugar,” he reasoned.

LAND NEEDED

According to Stedeford, the production and export of pulp will advance Jamaica on the world stage for cutting-edge production of hand tissues, papers and other bioproducts.

“About 80 per cent of what we’re shipping will be going to Europe, and the rest is going to North and South America. So Jamaica, predominantly, will be the main supplier to Europe as we progress, and that’s all in place for us,” the BBI CEO said.

However, to make that happen, Stedeford says his company will need more land on which to grow bamboo.

“We need as much land in Westmoreland that we can get. We’re having to look at lands across the island to get as much as we need, but we want as much as we can here,” he pleaded.

Stedeford says BBI has also been assisting farmers “to grow as much bamboo as possible”, and assuring them by way of long-term contracts to guarantee that their efforts in supporting the project are beneficial.

Bamboo pulp is similar to a straw or reed pulp. The bamboo pulp is usually made from Moso bamboo, Phyllostachys pubescent and sinocalamus affinis, and derived by sulphate digestion process, or soda process. The bamboo fibre morphology and length are intermediate between wood fibre and straw fibre.

The bamboo pulp can be made into bamboo paper, which is strong and has wide applications. The bleached bamboo paper is used to manufacture offset paper, typing paper and high-grade culture paper. Unbleached bamboo paper is generally used to produce packaging paper. In addition, bamboo pulp and wood pulp can be mixed and used to make cable, insulation paper and cement bag paper.