Natural Fibres and Seeds First National Conference - “Beyond the Bush”Jul 12, 2015
The Barbados Institute of Environmental Professionals with support from the Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme, implemented by United Nations Development Programme hosted the first “Beyond the Bush” Conference from 25th - 26th March 2015 at the Savannah Hotel in Barbados. The national conference provided stakeholders with the results of the GEF/SGP funded Barbados Natural Fibres and Seeds Project in addition to exciting prospects for long-term possibilities of fibre usage on a much wider scale.
The conference was addressed by National Coordinator, GEF/SGP UNDP, Mr. David Bynoe and co-funder representative, Mrs. Sonja Trotman, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC). It also brought two internationally renowned experts to illustrate practical and alternative uses of non-traditional fibres – Banana and Elephant grass, and visionary uses of discarded resources – seeing beyond the bush. David Croxton, a British specialist in the production of biomass, bio-fuel and composites from Miscanthus shared his expertise while Professor Nilza Justiz-Smith from the University of Technology, Jamaica, explored the hidden possibilities of natural fibres with special reference to banana fibre. Participants also benefited from the practical experience of Barbadian entrepreneur, Randolph Sandiford of Matrix Marketing Inc. who has perfected the innovative incorporation of elephant grass and corn husk into his furniture and interior design products. Innovative design and new product development guidance was provided by Stella Hackett, a product development specialist particularly to artisan businesses.
Very positive results emanating from this conference, such as the collaboration between a manufacturer and the newly established Barbados Natural Fibres Network for production of fibre cordage to be incorporated into furniture designs; the development of specific fibre products for export to a Bristol company, through the Network; the linkages made with the Caribbean focal point of the Global Natural Fibres Forum and the proposal for collaboration on a Caribbean fibres conference. The field trip on March 26 in which the international experts participated, provided coordinators and stakeholders with a platform to discuss community-based entrepreneurial activities utilizing fibres found in those communities. Toward this end, the potential abundance of banana fibre was earmarked for future exploitation.
Article prepared by Barbados Institute of Environmental Professionals.