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23.02.2006 Business & Finance

VLT programme begins in the timber industry


Kumasi, Feb 23, GNA - The Validation of Legal Timber (VLT) programme which aims at improving Ghana's timber control system and the country's continued access to the changing international wood products markets has taken off in the timber industry sector.

Mr A. Adjei-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, who made this known, said maintenance of unrestricted access to the changing international timber market was important for the growth of the timber industry in the country.

This was contained in an address read for him at a national workshop on dissemination of research findings on the Less Used Species (LUS) and market opportunities for Ghana timber industry in Kumasi on Thursday. The workshop which was organized by the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) aimed at informing members in the timber industry the opportunities that existed in the market place and therefore, make conscious efforts to increase their investments, especially in the LUS species in order to increase profitability of investments in the sector in the long term.

Mr Adjei-Yeboah said preliminary recommendations made on the programme sought to combine national forest control and management objectives with the changing international timber trade requirements and urged stakeholders to be well informed and cooperate fully in its implementation to ensure maximum benefits to the industry and the country.

He reiterated the need for the industry to develop closer relationship between science, technology and policy, adding that, the research on LUS, particularly with improving the acceptability of 'Dahoma', a tree specie, was gratifying.

Mr Adjei-Yeboah said the objectives of the workshop underlined the commitment of the government to promote the export of value-added products and also ensure the efficiency and profitability of the timber industry.

He regretted that, in spite of efforts by the government over the years to improve the forestry sector, the timber industry was still plagued with certain challenges, which had constrained its growth and development, especially in the area of tertiary wood processing. The Deputy Minister mentioned the over-exploitation of few preferred timber species, over-capacity of saw-milling sub sector and the inability of processors to explore new products and markets as some of the challenges, and said these constraints coupled with the growing domestic wood market posed a great challenge to the long-term sustainability of the industry.

He urged the participants to come out with recommendations to guide policy formation and directives on the management, harvesting, processing and utilization of the timber resources.

Mr Ofori Frimpong, Acting Chief Executive of the FC, said there was the need to encourage players in the timber industry to accept research findings on LUS and apply them to sustain the industry. He said the FC would continue to support research and development programmes to come out and promote the use of LUS in the industry. Alhaji Atta Alhassan, Executive Director of TIDD, said there was the need to put in place signs that, Ghana was willing to extract its timber resources in a sustainable manner.

He said the future of the industry would depend on how well to manage resources and called for policy interventions to provide incentives for value addition to products.