GFC seeking GRIF funding to promote value-added products

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, August 29, 2016

The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) is exploring skills training and capacity building in sawmilling as part of encouraging added value to forest products.

Iwokrama Sawmill

Iwokrama Sawmill

Commissioner of the GFC, James Singh told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the commission is collaborating with the private sector in preparing a proposal to seek funding from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). Focus will be on the establishment of a training school to provide, among other things, practical, marketing and entrepreneurial skills.

“The GFC is coordinating a multi-pronged approach to encourage added value to forest products,” Singh said. The commissioner explained that an enabling environment is being actively pursued to ensure added value to forest products.

“Ensuring that there is sufficient raw material for manufacturers of added value products is also a critical element,” Singh pointed out. The GFC continues to engage private sector bodies and companies to determine the products that the local or overseas markets require which can be supplied by Guyana.

To this end, the GFC has created a draft log export policy. “This policy is for feedback from the public and essentially is aimed at restricting log exports, especially logs from those species that are, or potentially in demand by added value forest produce manufacturers,” Singh explained. The final policy is expected to be completed shortly, Singh said.

Last year, the Natural Resources Ministry placed restrictions on the export of lotus logs following complaints by furniture manufacturers about shortages on the local market.

There has been a concerted effort by government to ensure added value of forest products locally. Guyana relies heavily on the export of raw logs. There are sawmills, kiln ovens and one plywood manufacturing factory that add value to forest products.

Earlier this year, President David Granger called for more sawmills and university level programmes focused on added value for forest products.

Additionally, Singh said the GFC will approach GRIF to fund other initiatives “to add impetus to the movement to add value.” One such initiative is a revolving fund to provide support to stakeholders to retool or invest in the appropriate equipment to facilitate added value. Another initiative being explored is a log consolidation yard.

Currently, the GFC facilitates training of stakeholders in key aspects of value added manufacturing. “It’s recognised that despite the current challenges…many local companies are still persevering and producing high quality added value forest products at competitive prices,” Singh said.

Adding value to products from the sector is challenged by low cost financing, poor access roads, high cost of energy, low level of skills and shipping constraints among others.

However, the 2016 mid-year report projected a rise in production of value added products in the sector as a result of increased production, combined with a larger market for value-added forestry products.