Furniture industry’s plight

Following the B&FT’s story on May 9th, 2018 – issue 2612 – which discussed the local furniture industry’s takeover by ‘home-used’ or imported furniture, a carpenter of 25 years, Selassie Tetevie, wrote to the newspaper to talk more about challenges confronting the industry and how best they can be addressed. We find it useful to share his views in today’s editorial.

In his piece, Mr. Tetevie said a major challenge faced by the industry is the scarcity of timber and related materials in the past 10 years. Also, the small size of the domestic market doesn’t make industrial production currently feasible.

Again, he said, the carpenter must also operate out of poor or non-existing workshop space, thereby affecting his production.

Mr. Tetevie then moves on to offer some solutions he thinks can revive the industry.

There is a need, he said, for better plans to be outlined by the Woodworkers and Timber Merchants Associations, so that a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly means can be used to obtain timber.

Again, local authorities need to provide proper workplaces for SMEs with affordable rent and rates so that the current situation of road-side production will stop. Facilities for storage, transports and waste processing must be included in the design, he said.

He further stated that craftsmen and women should come out with good designs relevant to the markets, both regionally and continentally, as this will allow manufacturers to grow and best compete globally.

Another solution Mr. Tetevie suggested is protection for the local industry by controlling imports of furniture into the country – and even putting a ban on some of them, as they come with health hazards.

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As the B&FT article noted, the local manufacturers have the capacity to produce to meet demand; they only need help from government to address some of the challenges highlighted above.

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