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Bamboo Greenhouse

Demonstration Project

A Demonstration Jamaican
Bamboo Greenhouse

Supported by the

Maryland Hawk Corporation


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To reduce the high cost of imported raw materials this “green” demonstration
project used local bamboo to replace steel and wood framing in the construction of
the greenhouses. The project analyzes the feasibility of building 2 greenhouses with
locally sourced, treated bamboo. Treated bamboo is optional.

Two prototype Jamaican greenhouses were built at locations with different

elevations and terrain.

The first greenhouse was a 50 ft x 16 ft facility constructed in Caymanas,

Middlesex, St. Catherine Parish in the Jamaican lowlands.

The second was a 100ft x 16 ft greenhouse in the higher elevations of Mocho,

Middlesex, Clarendon Parish.

Following are the specifications, cost and photos for the 100ft greenhouse in Mocho.
There are some accompanying photos of the 50ft greenhouse at Caymanas.

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Why Jamaica Bamboo?

Bamboo :

Grows more rapidly than trees and start to yield within three or four years of

Establishes quickly and requires minimal capital investment and builds upon the
inherent plant-cultivation skills of local farmers and foresters.

Can be harvested annually and non-destructively.

Is excellent for rejuvenating degraded lands and protecting against soil erosion.

Is easily intercropped with shallow-rooted crops.

Has culms and other parts of the plant that have many uses for rural livelihoods -
shoots for food, leaves for fodder, and branches for items such as brooms and for

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Jamaica Bamboo Facts

Durability of bamboo in construction is directly related to how well it is

handled from the moment of planting through harvesting, transportation,
storage, design, construction and maintenance.

Bamboo harvested at the correct time of year and then exposed to ground
contact or rain, will break down just as quickly as incorrectly harvested

Bamboo is 16% harder than maple wood, 1/3 lighter in weight than oak, yet
in some instances as strong as steel.

Bamboo holds the promise of a sustainable, cost effective, and ecologically

responsible alternative to the widespread clear cutting of our old growth

This plant has the ability to grow in almost any type of environment.

Another benefit of this plant is that Bamboo can restore degraded lands
since it is able to thrive in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agriculture.

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Jamaica Bamboo Hectares
Source: Forestry Department’s National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (2001)

Table 1: Bamboo Occurrence by Hectares

Land Use/ Cover Classification Area (ha) Notes

- bamboo 2,780 - lands with > * Data based on

75% B. vulgaris satellite
imageryfrom year
- bamboo & fields 29, 155 - lands with > 2000
50% B. vulgaris

- bamboo & disturbed forests 12,690 - ditto

Total Hectares: 44,625

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Jamaican Land Use
1989 & 1998 km2

Land Use 1989 1998

Built up land 531 523
Buildings/ Other infrastructure 519 523
Bauxite Land 12 49
Agricultural land a) 4150 4026
Fields 2732 2745
Plantations 831 823
Other agricultural land b) 587 458
Other non-forest areas 136 136
Land Use and Forestry 1989 and 1998, km2
Bare rock 9 9
Small islands 2 2
Herbaceous wetland 109 109
Water 17 16
Total non-forest land use/cover 4817 4734
Forest 3429 3402
Bamboo 28 30
Mangrove 98 97
Closed broadleaf 887 882
Disturbed broadleaf 1812 1786
Short open dry 121 121
Swamp 24 23

Tall open dry 421 420

Pine forest plantation 50 43

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Jamaica Geographic Map

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Jamaica Geographic Map

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Caymanas greenhouse 50 ft x 16 ft

Mocho greenhouse 100 ft x 16 ft

A 16ft high greenhouse was constructed in the higher temperature lowland’s at

Caymanas. A 14ft greenhouse was constructed in the cooler, higher elevation Mocha

The 16ft width accommodates the spacing of plant rows.

Treated whole length bamboo of different diameters and lengths were used. Some were
split into slats.

Roofing: Polyethylene UV

Siding: Shade cloth 45%

The Greenhouse Construction Design was provided by the USAID Jamaica Mission.

The following material is for the 100ft x 16ft greenhouse in Mocho.

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Material List
Manufactured/treated bamboo

Total length
Pieces Description Diameter Length

22 uprights 5” 16 ft 160 ft
20 connecting rods 2.5-3” 10 ft 200 ft
11 connecting rods 2.5-3” 16 ft 176 ft
2 roof sides 2.5-3” 20 ft 40 ft
lower ends
10 3” 10 ft 100 ft

roof upper ends

10 4.5” 10 ft 100 ft

roof slats supports

18 2-2.5” 17 ft 306 ft

roof slats (1/5)

40 5” 20 ft 160 ft

side mesh top slats

10 5” 10 ft 20 ft

6+4+3 Doorway section 4” 7,8,10 ft 104 ft

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Material listing
other Materials and hardware

z 4 bags of cement and relevant sand and gravel

z 36 x 4” x ¼” bolts with 36 nuts for the joins.

z 20 x 5”x 3/8”bolts with nuts to hold roof to base on lower part.

z 20 x 7” x 3/8” bolts & nuts to hold roof to frame on top part.

z 10 pieces of 12”x 2”x 2” pine for lower roof joins

z 10 pieces of 12” x 2”x 4” pine for upper roof joins.

z 5 lengths 1x 3” rough pine x 10’ for door frame

z 3 lengths 1x3” rough pine x 14’ for door mantle.

z 2 pairs of 6” T hinges for 2 doors

z UV plastic sheeting 106 ft long x 22 ft wide

z 250 ft x 12 ft Shade cloth 55%

z Pack of 2500 1 ½”staples

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Tools & Construction Equipment

Special requirements:

z 2 sets of scaffolding (made with bamboo & form ply)

z Generator to run compressor and drills for hole sawing and doweling

z Compressor to run heavy duty staple gun.

z Regular Tools including saws, hammers, drills, shovels, digger bar and ladders.

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Labor Requirements & Costs
Day 1 - 2 men

z Site layout $ 5000

z Digging of holes $15,000

Day 2,3,4 & 5 - 7 men

z more digging, setting uprights, frame out, slat bearers


Day 6,7 & 8 - 7 men

z set up slats, and UV plastic $39,000

Day 9 & 10 - 8 men

z meshing, set up doors and entrance room $34,000

Subtotal $145,000

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Details of Costs (JMD$)

1366 ft JMD$136,600
treated unscraped)
Lumber several 2,711
Cement 4 Bags 2,600
Hardware(screws, bolts,
overall 4,500
staples, hinges)
UV plastic sheeting 1 Role 29,431
Shade cloth 45% 80 m role 4m high 37,795
Operating Costs 56,000
Subtotal 269,637

Labor Costs 145,000

Total Cost JMD$414,637

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Scope of Work and Observations:

z The first greenhouse was smaller and required more time to construct than the
second larger greenhouse. The lessons learned in the first greenhouse were applied
to the second, decreasing the construction time 25% for the larger greenhouse. By
using a construction advisor the number of construction workers can be greatly
reduced. With a technical advisor the labor required can be reduced to a farmer
and 2 helpers to construct this type of bamboo greenhouse.

z A special scaffolding was built with bamboo.

z Avoid windy conditions when attaching the plastic. Working with the plastic sheets
on during windy conditions for the 100ft house required twice the installation time.

z Based on experience with the first greenhouse built on site at the bamboo factory,
changes were made in the roof anchoring to the base frame. The new method used
a small bamboo hole sawed into a metal bolt and nut.

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Economics of Bamboo

-Source: Chapter 12 from INBAR Technical Report No.22: Bamboo Preservation

Compendium by Walter Liese and Satish Kumar, International Network for Bamboo and
Rattan (INBAR)

Total cost is a major consideration when price comparing construction materials. Locally
sourced untreated bamboo is a low cost material compared to metal and many timber
frames. “Treated or manufactured bamboo”, however, may exceed the costs of other
framing material. A cost comparison and affordability requires an analysis between the
initial costs and long-term costs comparisons of the extended service life. The following
aspects of bamboo preservation should be considered when making an economic evaluation
and justification of preservation and/or manufacture bamboo:

1. Expected life span of untreated and manufactured vs. treated bamboo.

2. Cost of local raw bamboo vs. labor cost for manufactured bamboo.

3. Matching various treatment costs to required life span.

4. Ongoing service costs to repair & replace degraded bamboo.

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Construction 50ft Greenhouse

1. Digging the holes 2. Concrete filling 3. Placing pole supports

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Construction 50ft Greenhouse

4. Correct adjustment 5. Starting the roof 6. Watch the scaffolding

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Construction 50ft Greenhouse

7. Supervisor 8. Extending detail 9. Roof completed

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Construction 50ft Greenhouse

10. Greenhouse roof 12. Shade cloth

11. Plastic installed

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Construction 50ft Greenhouse

13. Entrance 1 14. Entrance 2 15. Detail roof

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Construction 50ft Greenhouse

16. Inside 50ft 17. Roof detail 18. Roof vent

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Construction 100ft Greenhouse

19. Entrance 20. Side view length 21. Top view

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Construction 100ft Greenhouse

22. Inside view 23. Front view 24. Side view

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Observations &
z Demonstration cost estimation was inexact especially for the first greenhouse.

z Due to the varying natural bamboo lengths, it was difficult to correctly estimate
the linear feet and number of bamboo lengths required.

z The project underestimated the roof construction and plastic and shade cloth
installation time and cost.

z Supervisory technical assistance needs to be well coordinated with laborers

z Transportation and drive time to the construction site were underestimated.

z Better site selection and preparation would have reduced labor and construction

z Guttering should be standard for all greenhouses.

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Observations &

z The project underestimated the work involved to dig 1 1/2´ deep pole foundations
in the rocky and hilly Jamaica terrain.

z Prefabrication of greenhouse sections at a manufacturing site and transport of the

sections out to the construction site would reduce the onsite labor and
construction time.

z Prefabricated sections could be combined with self-help or mutual-help teams

assisted with technical assistance for “barn raising” construction to reduce labor

z Experimentation with other varieties of bamboo such as Guadua bamboo may

reduce the treatment cost, build time to build and us a simpler design.

z The 133sqft demonstration greenhouse may be too large for Jamaican farmers . A
smaller expandable version would reduce the initial investment and involve more

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Useful Sites

Francis, John k. 1993. Bambusa vulgaris Schrad ex Wendl. Common bamboo. Gramineae. Grass family.
Bambusoideae. Bamboo subfamily.. USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry; . 6 p.
(SO-ITF-SM; 65.)

Farmers Color Fields with Flowers in El Salvador in Bamboo Greenhouses

The Jamaican Protected Agriculture Training Manual

Low cost greenhouses using bamboo frame structures

Bankable Scheme/Area Development Project on Cultivation of high value cash crops under Green house/poly
house in Darjeeling hills region.

The National Bamboo Project of Costa Rica: a Case Study of the Role of Bamboo in International Development

Science and Technology (IWST), Bangalore 560 003, India

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Contact and Credits

Sponsored by:

The Maryland Hawk Corporation a 501(c)(3) non-profit affiliated with the University
of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) a Historically Black (HBCU), 1890 Land Grant-
University. Daniel S. Kuennen, Executive Director.

In-country project coordinator:

Mr. Wes Moses , Country Director/Jamaica, CDC Development Solutions, 876 -815 -4342

Fabricator and Contractor :

The Original Bamboo Factory

Mr. John Hamilton, Caymanas Estate, Spanish Town P.O., St. Catherine Jamaica
W.I., Phone: (876) 746 9906 Fax: (876) 746 9905, Email:

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