Ghana was the first country to enter into a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Community under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) in 2008, which was ratified in 2009. The Agreement provides a framework under which all timber and timber products exports from Ghana into the European Union (EU) should be legally sourced, as well as timber meant for the domestic market. The main instrument of the VPA hinges on a Legality Assurance System (LAS) of which wood tracking and verification systems will guarantee that timber and timber products exported to the EU are legally compliant. The first FLEGT license for export is expected to be issued in 2014. To ensure legality of timber for the domestic market, Ghana has adopted a domestic timber market policy and formulated procurement guidelines.
It is anticipated that under the VPA, the strict enforcement of existing laws especially for the domestic market will require radical changes in operations in particular for the Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them comply with the new provisions. It is therefore crucial to develop the capacity of the SMEs to enable them reposition their enterprises to fit into the new VPA regime.
Despite their importance to the economy and resource sustainability, SMEs have been largely left out in forest planning and management in Ghana. SMEs face challenges such as inadequate knowledge on legal processes for acquisition of harvesting rights, processing and movement of timber, lack of secured tenure, poor technical and business know-how, and disorganized organizational set-up, all of which are hindering proper monitoring of their operations.
Additionally, they face problems like excessive bureaucracy from public agencies, unfavorable policies and legislation, poor market access and information, lack of access to credit, poor service infrastructure and obsolete equipment & technology. Recognizing the important roles that SMEs play in national development, especially in the alleviation of rural poverty, there is room for designing and adopting an institutional support system to enable SMEs to become VPA compliant and at the same time ensure broader stakeholder participation in the VPA implementation. This project addresses these identified challenges and their underlying causes.
The EU FAO FLEGT Programme promotes the implementation of the FLEGT Action Plan by improving forest governance, providing technical assistance, and building capacity through funding projects in eligible countries. In pursuit of these objectives, the EU FAO FLEGT Programme agreed to support the project entitled “Improving Capacity Development of Small to Medium Scale Timber Processing Enterprises towards Effective Voluntary Partnership Implementation in Ghana”.
The project has three main outputs, namely;
i. Networking and coordination among SMEs enhanced
ii. Capacity and skills of SMEs to enhance participation in the VPA process developed
Iii. Monitoring, evaluation and visibility framework developed.
The main objective of this project is to strengthen the institutional capacity and knowledge base of SMEs to facilitate adherence to the VPA domestic licensing regime towards improved forest governance in Ghana.
• Carpentry Products (Tables, Chairs, Doors, Windows, Beds
• Carved stools, doll, e.t.c