A GlobaImagel Network Fibre Symposium entitled Natural Fibres Industries: Building Collaborative Networks for Success was held in Kingston, Jamaica 29-30 May 2012 to promote the uses and  opportunities of natural fibres in the region.  This  Natural Fibres Project has been  an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat ( ComSec) since  2009 when the United Nations declared it as the Year of Natural Fibres. The network includes partners in Africa, Asia, India and the Caribbean.  

The Global Natural Fibres Forum (GNFF) is dedicated to the promotion of the usage of natural fibres across the globe and consists of producers, retailers, researchers, designers, artisans, cooperatives, self help groups, financiers and organizations.  The GNFF hopes to maximize the benefits of indigenous natural fibres to increase income for local, small producers across the world and to facilitate the united representation of small producers as owners of their local natural resources. The objective of this symposium was to develop a strategy for a GNFF Caribbean which will include identification of key stakeholders, an operational plan and financial sustainability.

In early January 2012, a forum was held in Belize to compile information on:

  1.  The availability of fibres and current uses
  2.  Compiling a  directory of individuals and organizations with interest in   natural fibres ( artisanal and industrial)
  3.  Identification of potential fibre project

Natural fibres derived from banana, bamboo, cotton, corn, palms, rice, sugar cane and animal skin have traditionally been used for shelter, clothing and cultural  objects in the Caribbean.  Despite this, the development of industries from natural fibres has been limited and agricultural residues and non-timber forest products are generally underutilized, with very little published information available and research ongoing in relation to their potential uses.  Some areas of opportunities include textiles, flooring (bamboo), carpets, packaging, handicrafts, composites and e-commerce marketing.

Beltraide is currently in communication with the ComSec regarding possible project funding. For more information on the GNFF please visit www.globalnaturalfibres.org.