Eyeing to develop and commercialise the largely unexplored bamboo market, Malaysia-based Global Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundation (GIEF) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture.
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Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said the agreement represents an achievement by the ministry in attracting foreign investment in the agriculture sector.
“Bamboo has the potential to increase household incomes while reducing hunting and forestry activities, as well as migration,” he said, adding that the goal of the partnership is to strengthen bamboo processing activities and bump up the quality of bamboo products that will be used within the country or sent abroad as exports.
He said the memorandum is part of the ministry’s development policy for the sector for the period 2019-2023, which prioritises a number of “key sub-sectors”, such as bamboo production, to increase the sector’s overall productivity.
“Growing and processing bamboo is a new occupation that can create jobs for local people and communities in the forest,” the minister said.
“We hope and strongly believe that all parties involved in the implementation of the MoU will benefit the communities and the investment companies,” Mr Sakhon added.
GIEF founder and chairman Ghazi Sheikh Ramli said Cambodia enjoys great bamboo resources, but they are only used for small-scale traditional activities.
“In Cambodia, bamboo is used to make six or seven different things. Our goal is to promote the bamboo industry and reach the global market.
“There are many things we can do with bamboo if we think creatively and innovatively,” he said, citing as examples food items, fabrics, furniture, construction materials and crafts.
The collaboration with the Cambodian ministry seeks to promote the exchange of experiences and knowledge in a sector that, he said, is worth $100 billion internationally.
“We want to help (the ministry) understand what bamboo is all about. They don’t have to copy everything that we have done in the past, but they can use our experience to improve the sector.
“Together we can create an effective strategic plan for Cambodia’s bamboo industry,” he said.
He said the memorandum covers a ten-year period, which should give the parties plenty of time to craft an effective strategy for the sector. “The strategic plan will define what we want to achieve and what our strategic goals are,” he said.
“Cambodia has abundant bamboo resources, let’s turn them into businesses that will bring money.
“But we cannot forget about local communities: they need to benefit and be involved,” he added.
Mr Ramli had a message for the local business community: “Whether you are big, medium or small, follow our next program in terms of creating awareness and understanding. You will see the opportunities in the sector and from there you can chose the particular area of bamboo you would like to explore.
“We can connect you to Malaysian partners or we can connect you to other local businesses in order to seize opportunities in the sector,” he added.