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General News of Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Source: GNA

Help save the forestry industry - Forestry Association cries

Dr Kwame Asamoah Adam speaking at the press conference Dr Kwame Asamoah Adam speaking at the press conference

The Forestry Industries Association of Ghana (FIAG), a coalition of private operators in the forestry sector, has appealed to the government to ensure the rational allocation of resources to make production systems in the sector work efficiently and sustainably.

Dr Kwame Asamoah Adam, the Chief Executive Officer of FIAG, at a media briefing on Tuesday, said some well-endowed companies, which had invested capital in machinery could not operate at even 50 per cent capacity currently.

That, he said, was due to the unavailability of forestry materials and other illegal operations such as stealing and selling of forestry resources to countries like Burkina Faso and Mali.

“So we want to see the Government improving the enforcement system that will ensure that the little that we have is available for local processing,” Dr Adam said.

The private forestry sector is said to provide jobs to over 400,000 people in Ghana and generating an annual income of 200 million euros.

The media briefing was to announce the soon to be out-doored Association.

Dr Adam said the operators therefore decided to go under one umbrella to secure the activities of members, ensure the access to finance, and rake in more revenue by using the national resources more sustainably.

He said export declined to about 60 per cent from January and June, 2020, due to COVID-19 and were still recovering, hence needed government’s intervention.

Dr Adam said challenges facing the sector included people mining in forest reserves and illegal agricultural production, exacerbating the rate of decline in raw materials.

Also, the ineffective management of timber allocation by the state, resulting in high cost of raw material, the high interest rate on local borrowing making businesses uncompetitive on local and external markets, and bureaucratic bottlenecks were issues affecting the operators.

Those issues were also being compounded by global environmental concerns like global warming and its resultant climate change, which impacted on wood production, he said.

To address those challenges, Mr Adam said the different forestry groupings engaged in tree plantation development, logging, timber milling and processing, and furniture/joinery/cabinet manufacturing, decided to come together two years ago to engage relevant stakeholders to improve their activities.

Other members include those into charcoal production, plant based industrial chemical extraction, canoe carving, wood handicraft production, and timber products trading and marketing.

The members had also partnered with state entities to rehabilitate depleted forest lands through tree planting programmes to sustain their businesses, he said.

Mr Gustav Adu, the Director of Operations, FIAG, said the Association was ready to support government to streamline activities in the sector to make their businesses thrive. He called for conscious efforts at reviving technical and vocational institutions to train workers in the wood and forestry industry to improve on their skills.