Accra, Nov. 24, GNA - An exhibition of bamboo products opened in Accra on Wednesday with a call for public patronage of such products to boost and sustain small-scale industries.
Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Land and Forestry, who made the call, said bamboo abounded in certain communities and they could be useful in diverse ways to create jobs and wealth, but due to lack of education on its usefulness it was allowed to go to waste. Some of the products on display included bamboo furniture, baskets and trays, fans, flower vases, necklaces, slippers, wallets and handbags.
Prof. Fobih said the Ministry was poised to make bamboo and rattan development priorities to serve as an alternative to timber and also assure quality and increased production for both domestic and Sub-Regional markets.
He said about 320 persons in eight communities had been trained under the Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP) on the nursing, proper harvesting and processing of bamboo. They have also been provided with entrepreneurial skills in the processing of the resource to serve as an alternative source of livelihood.
"This has provided jobs for about 75 unemployed in the processing of bamboo into handicraft, furniture and fence making."
Exhibitors included students from the Osu Presec in Accra; some selected youth from Doryumu in the Dangbe West District; Assin-Nsuta in the Assin Fosu District and Akyawkrom in the Ejisu District. Prof. Fobih called for a collaborative effort by all stakeholders in the formulation of appropriate strategies of bamboo preservation to help cut down on the pressure on timber and also save the virgin forests that were gradually being depleted.
He said funding was being sourced for from the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) and District Chief Executives through their Poverty Alleviation Funds to assist the trainees establish their own businesses.
He appealed to chiefs and traditional leaders to make land available on generous terms to groups as their contribution toward the success of the bamboo and rattan development programme.
The Minister urged the trainees to endeavour to add quality to their products to compete favourably with similar products on both local and international markets.
Mrs Gifty Ohui Allotey, Programme Administrator of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, said if treated well bamboo could last for more 400 years.
She noted that some artisans were still found to be using harmful chemicals that had been banned by developed countries for preservation of bamboo products.
"This is not acceptable according to international market standards and exports from the country could be banned if detected at the world market."
She called for the formulation of an appropriate policy on bamboo preservation to regulate activities in the industry and ensure its growth.