Business News of Monday, 7 October 2013

Source: B&FT

Wood industry stakeholders confer on challenges

Stakeholders in the wood industry have met in Kumasi with the aim of identifying gaps and areas requiring intervention in the timber value chain to improve competitiveness of the industry.

The meeting was under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) trade capacity building programme in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG).

Participants were drawn from the private and public sectors with representatives from the wood industry, academia, scientists, associations and regulatory institutions.

Trade in timber products contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product of Ghana, and despite the availability of high quality wood species, the quality of wood and furniture products in the country is rather low, the National Project Coordinator for the UNIDO programme, Victor Mills, said.

UNIDO, he said, intends to identify the main challenges and draw up activities that will add value to the industry for easy access to local and international markets.

He said one of the single most important factors that affect value addition to wood products is the lack of an accredited testing centre in the country to ensure that standards are complied with in the manufacture and processing of wood products.

Mr. Mills said as part of the programme, Berne University of Applied Sciences, Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering in Switzerland is partnering FORIG to upgrade and accredit its existing laboratory to conform to the requirements of ISO 17025:2005 -- which are general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

He told B&FT that the programme contributes to the development goal of supporting Ghana’s integration into world markets by developing a sustainable and competitive export economy compliant with trade-related standards.

The first phase of the UNIDO project assisted a number of laboratories at the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to gain accreditation to ISO 17025:2005. The programme also established a certification body within GSA. The scheme is accredited to certify systems to ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 22000:20005.

The programme is funded by the Swiss Government and implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.