The Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines has launched a capacity building programme for master craftsmen in the wood sector, with the view to arresting the wasteful utilisation of wood products and restoring loss in biodiversity.
It is an integrated skills development programme designed under the Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG) programme, with support from the development partners, to put master craftsmen in a strategic position to appreciate and realise the value of wood, both in terms of commercial business and the sustainability of biodiversity and the ecosystem.
To this end, 600 master craftsmen drawn from four districts in• the Volta Region have been trained in modern techniques in furniture designing, finishing methods, the use of sand paper, costing and the use of portable hand tools to help them to reduce waste and make the needed profit to enhance their livelihoods.
In an address read on his behalf by the Director and Programme Administrator of the Land Administration Project (LAP), Mrs Gifty Biyira, the sector Minister, Mrs Esther Obeng-Dapaah, noted that although designs of wood products were fashionable, the finishing was poor and made the products less appealing to buyers and less competitive on the international market.
She said the training programme was expected to inject a new sense in the use of lower volumes of wood to generate high value- added wood products, stressing that the Forestry Commission should introduce a standardisation scheme in the production of doors and frames to minimise waste in the production process.
In an address, the Human Resource Director of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Henry Atta Paidoo, said the commission would not sit down unconcerned as the inefficient and uneconomical use of forest resources went on.
He disclosed that a number of interventions had been fashioned out to confront the challenges posed by the fast rate of forest depletion due to human activity, adding that all stakeholders in the interventions would be equally rewarded under the environmental governance programme.
Mr Paidoo said the expectation was to adopt low volume, high value projects, adding that it was time to move from a vicious circle into a virtuous circle in consonance with the objective to achieve growth and poverty reduction.
He urged all the participants to transfer the knowledge gained to their apprentices in order to build more capacity to attract investment in the wood sector.
In an overview, the Director of the Wood Industries Training Centre (WITC), Mr Alex Offei, said the course content was to upgrade professional skills in the wood industry to help participants to appreciate the values and build their capacities to enable them to train other craftsmen.
The Ho Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Mawutor Goh, said the problem that had bedevilled the environment was the issue of chain-saw operators who produced cheaper lumber than sawmill lumber, although a lot of harm was being done to the environment.
He, therefore, commended the ministry for the initiative to re-orient the master craftsmen in a strategic manner that would lead them into the realm of best practice to win international recognition with their products.