Local bamboo ketchup now on the market

A young Jamaican entrepreneur has used bamboo to produce ketchup, which is now available on the local market.

Chevaughn Bowen, a recent university graduate and head of Jamdun' Food Processing, said that he got the idea to make the bamboo tomato ketchup while in discussion with director of special projects at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Gladstone Rose, who heads the Government's bamboo programme.

He then went to China to have a first-hand look at that country's bamboo industry, and to do further research on the properties in the edible bamboo shoots. Upon returning to Jamaica, he began producing the bamboo ketchup.

Bowen, who won a Jamaica Manufacturers' Association prize in 2010 for his hot and spicy barbe-fry sauce, said young people who have innovative business ideas should ensure that they are written and placed in the marketplace for development.

"An idea on paper is no idea at all. Putting a prototype together, and trying to get it out there in the market is best. Your idea sitting on paper, it makes no sense. I believe that everybody coming from university should have that state of mind, to become innovative," he told JIS News.

State minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, said the bamboo ketchup is the first of its kind in the world, offering a number of vitamins.

"This is one of the products for diversification, our own bamboo indigenous ketchup. There are several things that we can do with bamboo...there is bamboo pharmaceutical, the bamboo charcoal, bamboo flooring, furniture, bamboo to feed animals, and the bamboo fabric that is in demand, fetching a high price on the world market," she told JIS News, at the recent opening of the first bamboo charcoal factory in Pembroke Hall, St Mary.

"We are looking at the tourism industry, because instead of buying and selling things from other countries to our tourists, we can give them authentic Jamaican products, made in Jamaica. That is what people want when they come on a vacation," she said.

Export Development Manager at JAMPRO Marlene Porter said the bamboo ketchup will be showcased at an upcoming business show in Montego Bay.

"There is significant opportunity for this product. We are looking at inviting the manufacturer to be part of the upcoming linkages event that we are having in Montego Bay, on January 21, where the hospitality sector will be coming to meet with local manufacturers. This is an excellent product that we want to showcase at the meeting," Porter said.

"JAMPRO's main role now is to help to identify potential investors to work with (bamboo) products. There are significant opportunities here, and we need to make them happen to realise the extensive benefits that we see from the bamboo programme," added Porter.

Bureau of Standards Jamaica Chairman Professor Winston Davidson lauded the bamboo ketchup as a "manifestation of a new industry being developed in Jamaica, and an industry which is also sustainable".

"The product is indigenous to Jamaica, and it is also part of the strategy for decreasing the impact of climate change on the country. It (bamboo) is able to trap carbon in the atmosphere," Davidson said.

The BSJ is spearheading a bamboo development strategy to facilitate the establishment of bamboo factories in four zones across the island. Zone 1 would include Hanover, Westmoreland and St James. These would produce bamboo board, furniture and charcoal. In Zone 2 (St Mary, Portland and St Thomas), factories would produce edible bamboo shoots, charcoal and preserved bamboo sticks.

For Zone 3 (St Andrew, St Catherine and Clarendon), the factories would produce bamboo saw dust, pellets, shipping pallets, preserved bamboo yam sticks, charcoal, and water and air filters. In Zone 4 (St Elizabeth and Manchester), factories would produce edible bamboo shoots, charcoal and preserved bamboo yam sticks.

"Inclusive development with bamboo has provided secured livelihoods for many thousands of rural producers on all continents. The same can be done for Jamaica," Ffolkes-Abrahams told Parliament, earlier in the year.

Published Date: 
Wednesday, December 31, 2014