In view of the challenges confronting the local timber industry, various groups operating within the timber sector are pushing for a common stakeholder body to collectively pursue revitalisation of the ailing timber industry.
It is expected that the body will also be in a position to ‘viably and proactively’ engage other sectors of the economy as well as government, while conveying the collective stance of local industry on issues affecting it.
Mr. Gustav Adu, Co-chairman of the Technical Committee of Forest Industries Association of Ghana (FIAG), noted that the establishment a mouthpiece for all the various stakeholders will help to find improved, innovative ways of reviving the timber industry.
He explained that FIAG is a group of timber-related associations which have come under one umbrella to have a common mouthpiece for the timber industry.
FIAG comprises the Ghana Timber Association (GTA), Ghana Timber Millers Organisation (GTMO), National Association of Handicraft Exporters (NAHE) and the Domestic Lumber Traders Association (DOLMAG).
It also includes the Kumasi Wood Cluster Association (KWC), Furniture and Wood Products Association of Ghana (FAWAG), Wood Workers Association of Ghana (WAG), Ghana Sawn Timber Sellers Association (GSTSA), and Canoe Carvers Association (CCA) among others.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a stakeholders’ meeting in Kumasi, where a ten-member governing board of FIAG was out-doored, he bemoaned the decline-trend in timber production.
He said this has been a huge concern to the membership of FIAG, which development they have been deliberating over.
“We have realised that the kind of timber that we prefer to use – Odum, Sapele and the like – are all dwindling.”
Meanwhile, he acknowledged that new ones ‘cropping up’ – for which some technical knowledge will need to be acquired on how to use them.
However, he insisted that “as a nation we have to protect our resources”, and pointed to some efforts to grow more timber.
It emerged that government is considering importing timber from other West African nations like Liberia.
Mr. Adu said the move by government is toward ensuring an increase in the volume of timber that can be processed in the country, but insisted that no timber has yet been imported.
On the sale of unapproved timber on the market, which stems from the illegal chainsaw phenomenon, he mentioned that there is an ongoing programme to completely eliminate the practice through, for instance, the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with its commitments and actions to tackle illegal logging and trade.
He was emphatic that they are gradually eliminating the chainsaw menace. He said there is now a Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) and body of procedures to verify legally sourced timber, as part of implementing the VPA.
FIAG is said to be committed to reorganisation of the domestic market, and has penned deepening education to inform timber traders how and where they should get legal timber.
The former Executive Officer of the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD), Dr. Attah Alhassan – who chaired the programme, urged representatives of the various associations in FIAG to endeavour in providing regular feedback to their members.
He urged FIAG members to rise above personal considerations and champion their collective interest, if they mean to be successful with their objectives.
Dr. Alhassan also charged the leadership to be committed and accountable to their subordinates, so as to forestall any breakaways in future.