Bamboo and Rattan processors have called on government, among other stakeholders to support the industry to make it sustainable.
Though government approved the adoption of the industry’s development in 2002, as a national programme to compliment the President’s initiative on Forest Plantation Development in Ghana, much more needs to be done.
These concerns were raised at a two-day Bamboo and Rattan Investment forum and exhibition held in Accra to commemorate World Bamboo Day.
The Day falls on September 18 and this year’s was dubbed “Harnessing the potential of Bamboo for Socio-Economics and Environmental Development in Ghana”.
Mrs Mavis Afrifa of Bamboo Africa, a producer of ladies’ handbags, picture frames, serving trays, among others using bamboo and rattan, lamented that a lot of time and money go into the production of few hand made products, making the work tedious and the products expensive.
She stressed that most Ghanaians did not value local products but fancied imported ones, and that, she said, made marketing difficult. This, affects the capital invested as employees would also be paid, she stressed.
Mrs Afrifa said, to keep them in business and especially, promote the bamboo and rattan business, financial support and the necessary machinery would be needed, and called on government and private entities to support their course.
Mr Emmanuel Appiah-Kubi, Research Scientist-Civil/Timber Engineer and an exhibitor, called on government to invite investors to help give good finishing to their works and make it competitive on the world market.
The machines, he stated, would help them produce in large quantities within a short time to meet the market needs as well as reduce the cost.
By so doing, Ghana would earn more foreign exchange and there would be no need to borrow, he advised.
Madam Faustina Baffour Awuah, Bamboo Natural Stands Management Officer and Programme Administrator, highlighting the importance of bamboo and rattan, said, they were the largest non-timber forest products in Ghana.
She enumerated some of the benefits as source of food, medicine, income generation (furniture, artifacts/handicrafts, foreign exchange, materials for rehabilitating degraded lands, prevents soil erosion, employment generation and a high potential for poverty alleviation in the rural areas.
She said bamboo and rattan are mostly found in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Volta and the Western regions, adding that, there are five local species in the Country with 15 more being exotic.
Madam Awuah said the only challenge was the way to maintain the already existing plantation and create more of such plantations to expand the industry.
She called for governments’ interest and commitment to help sustain the ready existing plantations before they become extinct.
Some of the challenges in the industry, Madam Awuah noted, were low technology in producing art and craft works, low investment in the industry by the private sector, inadequate funding for Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP) activities, lack of research for suitable species and no inventory data on volume of bamboo and rattan in Ghana to stimulate investment.