Bamboo Development Centre
The Pacific Green Business Centre, the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) and Fiji’s Ministry of Forestry are keen to establish a Bamboo Centre in Fiji to serve as a focal point for bamboo-related activities and revive the bamboo industry in the Pacific.
With the growing global interest in bamboo, owing mostly to its potential in combating climate change, this is the right time to invest in the industry in Fiji.
There have been a number of 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 these skills need to be complemented by other trainings, such as simple business principles or financial management.
The Fiji Bamboo Centre will be the central support system for Fiji’s fledgling bamboo industry to provide those trained with assistance when they are faced with problems in their endeavours.
The Fiji Bamboo Centre will be guided by the Ministry of Forestry and in accordance to the needs of the industry as expressed by the Fiji Bamboo Association.
The Fiji Bamboo Centre will serve as a national focal point for bamboo related activities including botanical and agricultural research, mapping of bamboo habitats around the Pacific, advocacy work, research in innovative applications (such as paper making and cloth making for example), training in propagation and also in the skills required in its many applications, and establishing policy that is conducive for the growth of the industry. The Centre itself will be built entirely of locally grown and treated bamboo and all interiors and furnishings will also be produced from bamboo, gradually built by the students. The centre will itself serve as a model of what could be attained through the use of bamboo as a building material.
It will also have a bamboo garden with all local bamboo species as well as some introduced species, also establishing nurseries at the centre to supply seedlings to growers and to students who want to establish their own nurseries. The Pacific Islands Development Forum, with partners such as INBAR, will support Fiji’s efforts in establishing this Bamboo centre and its efforts at methodically building an industry out of a re-source that is terribly under-utilised. This centre will become the focal point of all things bamboo in the country. PIDF will also serve as a regional hub to eventually link such centres in other Pacific island countries through a dedicated portal. It will also endeavor to link these to other centers around the world through the INBAR network.
The Centre will establish on-line tools both for training and for trading of bamboo products produced by its members. The portal will be run through the PIDF knowledge hub together with PIDF’s other portals, including the Pacific Green Business Centre (PGBC). In fact the Centre’s on-line tools will be seamlessly integrated with those of the PGBC. There will be other links established with PIDF’s other activities including the Pacific Environment and Climate Exchange (where bamboo growing could be supported by the private sector through carbon credits), the Oceania Centre for Sustainable Transport (where bicycle, car and boat parts could be manufactured using bamboo), the promotion of organic farming (bamboo is the perfect organic plant) and the promotion of sustainable tourism (providing bamboo buildings, furniture and finishing).
The Centre will partner with local training institutions to offer training programmes for the propagation and utilization of bamboo. Internationally recognised certification will also be a goal of the centre. It will develop state of the art training rooms, workshops, audio-visual and mechanical equipment and tools, libraries, a permanent exhibit of traditional bamboo artifacts and locally produced modern applications. The Centre’s responsibilities will not end once its students graduate. The graduates from the centre will be supported by the centre in finding employment related to their studies and skills attained or in establishing their own enterprises. The centre will continue offering them support related to their endeavours. The centre will also develop a register of bamboo graduates including builders, furniture makers, farmers, trainers, etc. This would ensure ready access to skills as they arise and whenever there is such demand from the public and private sectors.There are a number of opportunities for graduates that the Centre, together with government institutions responsible for youth and employment, could jointly explore and support. Importantly the students and graduates will form an important component of efforts by the country to provide citizens with low-cost housing by using locally available bamboo material. This would also ensure continued employment of graduates of the Centre.
The tourism industry provides a number of opportunities for bamboo entrepreneurs both in the building of resort outfits and in the souvenir business. Fencing, blinds and other kitchen, bathroom and other home, office and commercial products could also be produced with bamboo subject these could be locally produced at a competitive price. The furniture industry would also benefit from locally produced bamboo furniture, both for the rustic, beach and resort market but also for the modern and office furni-ture market through the use of bamboo composites. Bamboo composites could also supply local and overseas markets with material for floorings and interiors.
The possibilities are enormous. This Centre could be the focus of an industry that could offer huge economic opportunities to Fiji, employment opportunities to a large number of its youth and reduce imports of products made of materials that do not necessarily fit the green transformation that the Pacific island countries have chosen to pursue and that the Pacific Islands Development Forum has been tasked to support.
An important element is the integration of women in the running of the Centre. Working with the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Centre would facilitate training of women in cultivation, preservation, craft making, management and administration of the Bamboo Centre.
Long-term sustainability of the Centre
Although the Centre will receive the initial support of the Ministry of Forests, PIDF and INBAR through a joint project, it is expected to eventually function independently under the auspices of Ministry of Forest In order to do so, in its first six months of operation the Centre will develop its own financing plan taking account of potential for generation of funds from its course offerings, sales made from its nurseries and workshops, services that can be offered to government agencies and the private sector, as well as through submission of project proposals to development partners.