The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has through the Forest Investment Programme (FIP), secured a seven million-dollar loan facility at a concessionary rate to stimulate private sector investment in small to medium scale commercial forest plantations.
The facility is soon to be disbursed to industry players and also to cushion the sector.
Mr Benita Owusu Bio, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who announced this at the launch of the Forest Industries Association of Ghana (FIAG) in Accra on Tuesday, urged members of the Association to apply for the facility when it is advertised to build on their raw material base.
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”.
Mr Owusu Bio 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.
He said the government recognises 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.
Therefore, the growth of the business 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.
To secure the forest estate from further degradation and promote trade in the wood industry, the government was 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 afforestation programme, the Deputy Minister stated.
He 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 programmes that would suit the needs of the industry as well as meet the aspirations of job seekers.
Mr Richard Nsenkyire, Chairman of FIAG, 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 the 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.
He, however, assured that the Association was ready to promote a sustainable forestry industry by serving members through advocacy, research and market development.