A Professor at the Department of Wildlife and Range Management, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. S. K. Oppong has tasked members of the Forest Industries Association of Ghana (FIAG) to remain united and resolute for the long survival of the newly launch association.
According to him, the only way for the FIAG’s survival in turbulent times ahead of association is resolute and united members who believe in themselves and one another.
Prof. Oppong made the call at the official launch of FIAG which was held at the plush Alisa Hotel in Accra, nine years after its formation.
Prof. Oppong who chaired the launch explained that many associations which begun beautifully like that FIAG have lost their steam and shine because of rancor and bickering among members.
“No government, politician groups or individual organization can take you for granted or force any ‘bitter pile in your throat to swallow’ when you go to the discussion or dialogue table with one stronger voice” he reiterated.
Prof. Oppong, however, also encouraged the leadership of the association to set up a training school to train the manpower need of the forest and wood industry. “Set up your own training school to give the skills sets that the industry needs to grow, today things keep changing, for instance; weather paten, technology, etc. this situation demands special skills set and it is you the industry players that can develop these set of skills to sustain your operations.” He maintained.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Benita Owusu Bio at the launch told the gathering that the government through the Forest Investment Programme (FIP), has secured a seven million-dollar loan facility at a concessionary rate to stimulate private sector investment in small to medium scale commercial forest plantations.
He, therefore, urged members of the Association to apply for the facility when it is advertised to build on their raw material base.
Mr. Owusu Bio stressed that the growth of the wood industry certainly depended directly on the availability and supply of raw materials and so the government was committed to helping the sector through the Green Ghana Project, which had so far seen the planting of over five million trees across the country, hoping to be scaled up yearly, to 100 million trees by the year 2024.
He pointed out that for the state to secure the forest estate from further degradation and promote trade in the wood industry, the government is undertaking several interventions across various ecological zones including the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement and the issuance of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade License (FLEGT), and the youth in an afforestation program.
Mr. Owusu Bio, therefore, called for the collaboration between the private sector, Government and training institutions including the Forestry Commission Training Centre in Ejisu in the Ashanti region to develop training programs that would suit the needs of the industry as well as meet the aspirations of job seekers.
According to the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, the government recognizes the significant contribution of the wood industry and the potential of the sector to expand and generate additional revenue and employment, provided that the raw material supply base could be guaranteed and sustained.
The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources congratulated the industry players for coming together to champion their course and seek the necessary partnerships to help restore the depletion of forest resources that also served as a raw material for the industry players.
In his welcome remarks, Chairman of FIAG, Mr. Richard Nsenkyire called for the right business environment to be created to help boost the sector and increase the revenue and job creation among the teeming youth.
He said members had come together to provide a unified voice on their challenges, provide a platform for learning and experience sharing, encourage business engagement as well as ensure product quality control.
Mr. Nsenkyire, however, assured that the association was ready to promote a sustainable forestry industry by serving members through advocacy, research, and market development.
The FIAG is made up of 10 timber trade associations namely, the Ghana Timber Millers Organisation, Ghana Timber Association, Furniture and Wood Products Association of Ghana, Wood Workers Association of Ghana, Ghana Sawn Timber Sellers Association, Domestic Lumber Traders Association, Domestic Lumber Manufacturers Association of Ghana, the National Association of Handicraft Exporters, Kumasi Wood Cluster and the Ghana Canoe Carvers Association, which have operated independently over several decades in the past.
The launch was on the theme: “Sustainability of the forest and forest trade in Ghana in light of global changes”.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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