Adding value to the humble coconut could dramatically transform the Ghanaian economy - and turn it into an export-driven one. Unlike cocoa beans, for example, there will never be health issues - such as chemical residue - in the production of ecocoboards for export markets. If this initiative is well-planned, Ghana could easily become a leading producer of ecocoboards - manufactured in small and medium-sized Freezone ecocoboard factories across the nation. What better way to popularise the Freezone concept, I ask?
As it happens, ecocoboards are a better alternative to woodboards made from trees in our forests. They are structurally stronger than ordinary woodboards, and, because a natural ligament in the coconut bonds the ecocoboards, there is no need to use glue in its production. There is potential demand in export markets in the green building sectors of Europe and the U.S., and, additionally, they will be sought after by big furniture companies such as Ikea.
It so happens that Ghana's last surviving woodboard factory, located in Sambreboi, in the Western Region, closed down about two years ago. Apparently, the cost of the glue used in bonding the woodboards became prohibitive and made the Sambreboi boards uncompetitive. Luckily for us, Dr. Jan van Dam, of the Wageningen University and Research Institutes, and his faculty team's partners, are ready, able and willing, to help Ghana to commercialize the production of ecocoboards, if approached by the Ghanaian authorities.
Readers could learn more about ecocoboard production by googling: www.ecocoboard.net. It will blow their minds. This is content from that website: "Coconut husks, a waste product from the copra and coconut oil production, are found there abundantly. An innovative method to produce Ecocoboard was developed, which is a new, high-quality building board material from the fibrous husk without addition of chemical adhesives. Techno-economic evaluation of the process showed that Ecocoboard can compete on the market for high-quality wood-based panels and boards for building and furniture applications."
The production, on a commercial scale, of ecocoboards in Ghana, will create jobs galore for our younger generations, and wealth that remains locally, for the young entrepreneurs who will promote its manufacture in all the sixteen regions of our country. It will help get us to the Ghana beyond aid that we all want to see come into being quickly. The time has now come to commercialize the production of ecocoboards in Ghana.
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