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Grupo BambuBrasil - Entrevistas

Eng. Joris De Vos
Diretor da COBELGAL - Portugal

BB - How happened you become interested in bamboo?
R - That is a long history. Me interest started aroud 1990 by an article about bamboo i readed one evening. In that time I was not involved in agriculture. I was marketing manager for South America and middle East for one of the most important consulting company of the world. employing 3000 peoples among which ... 1800 engineers only for pure consulting. It are me 3 last years activities in this companies that allowed me ,to day, to realise what I am doing for bamboo

BB - Do you have bamboo projects being developed in the Europe? Could you briefly (or not so) explain them?
R - For the moment there is no bamboo project in Europe. Every year +/- 3 millions bamboo plants are produced and selled in Europe exclusively for ornamental purposes. Bamboo is "mode" and very few gardens are established without bamboo , but we have no knowledge of a bamboo project for other purposes. In fact the only important industrial bamboo project in the occident seems to be in Brazil.

BB - How important is bamboo for the future European economy?
R - We believe that bamboo can become an interesting complement ( not alternative) for the European forest. In the south, Europe is importing big quantities of wood as raw material for his industry. The EEC is looking for solutions and our research projects have been financed in the frame of such preoccupation. Similar attempts are ongoing with other crops like miscanthus, kenaff or short rotation crops.

BB - What are the advantages of the bamboo in-vitro reproduction? How far biological companies have gone in this matter?
R - Temperate bamboo plants are only obtained in Europe by rhizome multiplication. Today the demand of bamboo plants is higher that the offer with as result that bamboo plants are very expensive to purchase. This kind of situation will never allow a mass production for industrial purposes where quality, quantity and low price are essential. Only introducing the " in vitro" step into the complete multiplication chain will allow to reach the required needs. For the moment only one company is involved in " in vitro" multiplication in Europe. It concern Oprins plant of Belgium. Oprins plant was my partner in the project "bamboo for Europe" and it is producing +/- 60 bamboo species by the "in vitro" technology. The cost reduction of the plants is around 50 %.

BB - China is opening its economy to the world. Is bamboo (as a resource) an important Chinese product?
R - Bamboo products represent a high export value for China. Nevertheless, bamboo is more of intern importance since very long-time.

BB - Can bamboo heal degraded soil, water and air?
R - Bamboo is not only excellent for soil stabilisation or for wind break. We found also that some species are suitable for urban wastewater's treatment or for the reduction of nitrates contamination's. Another important point to check is the potential of bamboo as fire break into traditional forests.

BB - Can bamboo be used as a fibre, instead of wood fibre?
R - Yes, our project " bamboo for Europe" clearly confirmed the possibility to mix bamboo and wood fibres for the production of fibreboard's like MDF.The great news is that for some mix all the characteristics of fibre boards are improving. This situation have not been found for particle boards where the present of extern wax seems to give problems in the production of such products.

BB - Bamboo is natural where money and technology is scarce. Money and technology is abundant where bamboo is not natural. "Developed" countries are beginning to see the importance of bamboo as a good clean natural resource, and "Not-Developed" countries are starting to see that technology is vital to their development. How difficult is for an European to invest in bamboo?
R - The investments in Bamboo for industrial purposes in Europe are far to be reality. But several steps have been done the last years and a lot of discussions are ongoing confirming that such evolution can be possible. The EEC in Brussels started to finance for the first time bamboo projects in 1990 when I presented them this idea. To day the European commission have already financed 6 other projects. The last one will developed the discussions between Europe and China. Last week we become the possibility to include also south America in such meetings. That means that the possibility will exist very soon to study all the collaboration potentials between the 3 continents.

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