The first World Teak Conference (WTC) in Africa is underway in Accra, with the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, calling for partnerships for the sustainable management and utilisation of teak tree species for development.
He has also urged participants to come up with strategies that will ensure more value-addition to teak products from emerging markets and developing economies to improve rural livelihoods.
Mr Jinapor said being the lead producer and exporter of teak aside from Asia, Ghana would explore opportunities to leverage the wood product for accelerated growth.
The three-day conference, which began yesterday, is being participated by 300 representatives from 31 counties across the world.
It is on the theme: “Global teak market: Challenges and opportunities for emerging markets and developing economies".
It is being organised and coordinated by the Forestry Commission, in collaboration with the International Teak Information Network (TEAKNET), India, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), Japan, and the International Union of Forest Research Organisation (IUFRO), Vienna, with technical support from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Thematic areas to be discussed include small-holder teak plantation, value addition and livelihood enhancement of rural communities, cost-benefit analysis on teak investments and promoting responsible trade and markets of teak and management models for community forestry and family farming.
Mr Jinapor said the government would sustain landscape restoration and reafforestation interventions that had been implemented, including the Youth in Afforestation Project, the Modified Taungya System, the Forest Investment Programme and the Green Ghana Initiative.
The minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Damongo in the Savannah Region, added that teak was the most exported timber species from the country in terms of volume and value.
"Last year, for instance, teak constituted 54 per cent by volume and 45 per cent by value of all the 42 timber species and wood products exported from the country," he added.
Ghana, right destination
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, who opened the conference on behalf of the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, said the country was the right destination for investors in the teak business.
He said the global market value of teak was estimated at between $400 million and $600 million, and that for a product that took between 10 and 25 years to reach its market potential, there was the need for clarity of interventions, policy coherence and sustainability measures to fully tap its potential.
"By the time you are done with this conference, our expectation is that we will receive a report which should guide global leaders on how to utilise the endless possibilities of teak," he said.
The Chairman of the TEAKNET Steering Committee, Walter Kollert, said hosting the conference in an African country was crucial, especially so when the effective management of the teak sector had the potential to address challenges confronting the continent.
"We are convening here at a time severe drought is biting hard on East Africa, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the region and climate crisis is real, so the potential in the teak sector must be explored," he said.