Building a bamboo industry in Fiji

Bamboo is potentially an important component of the Green Economy transformation. Its presence in a number of Pacific island countries and its versatility could offer Pacific people sustainable solutions to their needs. It could also become an important source of employment and income for communities that are currently under employed.

But much more can be done with this important resource. We do need to first raise its profile. There have been a few attempts in the Pacific in bamboo related activities but many have not been followed through with. There have been a number of trainings provided in relation to bamboo in both propagation and utilisation but although this kind of skill training is important, it is not enough. These skills need to be coupled with other trainings, such as simple business principles or financial management.

It is essential to establish a support system to provide those trained with assistance when they are faced with problems in their endeavours. The establishment of the Fiji Bamboo Association (FBA) was meant to be a component of this support.

The Fiji Bamboo Association was established in the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 18th September 2019.

The FBA is a public–private partnership formed for the purpose of promoting, supporting and protecting the bamboo industry in Fiji. It brings together various organisations and individuals with interest in the various bamboo sectors, whether this is in areas concerned with propagation or application. This would include organisations involved in policy formulation and change, education and training, technical and/or financial support, etc. The FBA will represent the combined interests of these organisations and members with the aim of establishing a thriving bamboo industry in Fiji. I am one of three trustees of the association.

At the same inaugural meeting a five-year strategy, which I drafted, was also approved.

The strategy recognises six main areas of activities that FBA needs to lead or support to implement its mission. These are:

  1. Institutionalisation of the Association;

  2. Research and Training;

  3. Bamboo propagation;

  4. Bamboo applications;

  5. Communication and Media; and

  6. Partnerships.

In implementing the Strategy, the FBA will support the development of the various bamboo industries through partnerships with the private sector that will drive these efforts. These include:

  • Construction (both affordable housing and high end markets including resorts). This includes the use of bamboo:

  • In its natural cane form for building;

  • For scaffolding purposes;

  • In a composite form;

  • Monocoque sandwich construction;

  • In the production of zero-carbon concrete.

  • Paper pulping;

  • Bamboo shoots for culinary use;

  • Bamboo furniture (in both natural can form and by using bamboo composites);

  • Boat building;

  • Production of alternatives to plastic products;

  • Bamboo for the production of textiles;

  • And many others.

The FBA will also embark on a communication and media campaign with the aim of :

  1. raising the profile of bamboo and the bamboo industry in general,

  2. promote national policy that will support the sustainable development of bamboo,

  3. impart information to its members, students and the general public, and

  4. lobbying on behalf of the industry to ensure continued growth of this sector.

I’m available to support any organisation or country that seeks to reap the benefits of this important green and climate-friendly resource.

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