The International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) has opened a Bamboo Common Production Training Centre (CPTC) at Obogu in the Asante-Akim South District, to provide technical/ capacity building support for the artisans.
The CPTC concept, an innovative approach to ensuring the availability of processing machines and equipment for use by bamboo artisans, is being implemented under the Inter-Africa Smallholder Livelihood Development Programme by the INBAR.
Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Centre, also expected to train artisans in the production of bamboo crafts, is the first to be introduced in the bamboo value chain in Ghana.
It has the capacity to produce the toothpick needs of the Ashanti Region and can also produce bamboo laminated boards for furniture, especially school desks, and coffins.
Initiated by the Asante- Akim South Municipal Assembly and the Rural Enterprises Project, INBAR is leading the implementation by providing technical and logistical support.
More than 100 youth have already been trained at the centre with 20 full time staff.
Dr Ernest Nti Acheampong, the Programmes Manager of INBAR-Ghana, said it was an international organisation of 47 member states with its headquarters in China.
He said the establishment of the CPTC formed part of an empowerment and poverty reduction strategy aimed at supporting livelihoods through income generating activities.
"We are very happy that Obogu has been chosen for the project and we look forward to equipping the local people with skills to improve their economic status," he said.
Mr Michael Kwaku, the National Project Coordinator, said though bamboo processing was new in Ghana, INBAR was leading the way to create jobs while protecting the environment.
He said INBAR was providing the necessary support to the Government in policy frameworks to enhance the sector's development.
"INBAR is providing support to local artisans to help improve product quality, innovation and marketing hence this CPTC we are commissioning today," he added.
He commended the Assembly, chiefs of Obogu, the Rural Enterprises Project, and all other stakeholders for their instrumental roles in the establishment of the Centre and called for their continuous support for its sustainability.
Mr Alexander Frimpong, the Municipal Chief Executive, said the idea to establish the bamboo processing centre was conceived as far back as 2007 but implementation remained a challenge until INBAR stepped in.
He said the commissioning of the Centre was a huge step towards the industrialisation of the local economy with four other factories at various stages of completion under the One District One Factory initiative.
He paid glowing tribute to INBAR for the investment and the opportunities created for the thousands of players in the bamboo value chain, especially the youth.
The MCE charged managers of the facility to ensure its proper maintenance for the benefit of posterity.