Ghana has established wood and furniture testing centre at Fumesua, near Kumasi, as part of a deliberate push to add more value and substantially improve the quality of locally-manufactured furniture.
Equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities for furniture, wood, plywood and wood-based panels testing, it would aid the growth of the sector through efficient utilization of wood species, product development and standardization.
The centre is the first of its kind in the West Africa sub-region and the third in Africa – coming only after Egypt and South Africa, and it was set up by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The Government of Switzerland provided the funding under the Trade Capacity Building (TCB) Programme of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, the Trade and Industry Minister, in a speech read for him at its inauguration, called for a shift of focus to value addition by operators in the wood and furniture sector.
It was imperative they became competitive on both the local and international markets, while ensuring sustainable use of the dwindling forest resources to safeguard the timber industry and boost the economy. He spoke of the availability of high quality wood species and said with the inauguration of the facility, furniture manufacturers could now process and make products that met international standards.
Mr. Kyeremanteng added that the UNIDO and his ministry’s trade capacity building programme, funded by Switzerland, was providing tremendous support for the timber industry.
He cited the development of 26 new standards for the wood industry alongside the revision of nine existing ones. He said the goal of promoting standardization in the wood sector was to increase market access of selected commodities.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), said they were eager to make sure that wood products and related services were designed, manufactured and traded in a sustainable manner - conform to international standards and met the expectations of consumers.
He said the centre was a response by the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) to build the capacity of industry players, develop and maintain standards in the wood processing sector, to raise the quality of products.
Mr Fakhruddin Azizi, UNIDO Representative to Ghana and Liberia, said the Organization through the TCB programme was determined to give strong support to the private sector, academia and government institutions in their activities.He called for investors to take advantage of the opportunities available to improve on the quality of their products and compete favorably on both the local and global markets.
Prof Daniel Aniagyei Ofori, Director of FORIG, appealed to the government to encourage the certification of wood products on the local markets to sustain the centre.