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Wood export ban has regulated industry–TWEAN

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By Abraham Adekunle

Association highlights regulation and economic growth in the sector.

The Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria (TWEAN) has affirmed the positive impacts of lifting the ban on exports in Nigeria. According to Mr. Joe Odiase, the General Secretary of TWEAN, this step by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has led to a highly regulated industry in Nigeria and has led to increased economic activities within the sector. Odiase emphasized that since the ban was lifted and with proactive government efforts to support sector growth, there has been a notable influx of furniture manufacturing companies into the wood industry. This trend reflects a growing confidence and interest in Nigeria’s wood export potential.

Highlighting the sector’s current engagement of about five million Nigerians across the wood processing value chain, Odiase stressed the importance of fully implementing policies that govern the sector. He mentioned that while progress has been made, more can still be done to optimize the industry’s contributions to the economy. In terms of regulatory measures, Odiase pointed out that the Minister of Environment, Balarabe Abbas Lawal, has actively engaged stakeholders in the industry. These engagements aim to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the industry’s growth trajectory and that regulations are adhered to.

Regulations specified by the Ministry of Environment.

He explained, “Exporting wood now requires specific specifications from the ministry and entails contributing to the government’s afforestation program, as outlined in the policy guidelines on wood export.” Acknowledging the role of policies in industry growth, Odiase credited President Bola Tinubu for implementing policies that have allowed the industry to flourish. Despite challenges such as the economic situation, the sector has witnessed significant engagement that benefitted millions of Nigerians involved in the wood value chain.

Nigeria’s lumber industry holds so much potential due to its rich forest resources. The country is home to various hardwood and softwood species, making it an important stakeholder in the global timber market. The lifting of the export ban has opened doors for Nigerian exporters to tap into international markets and showcase the quality and diversity of Nigerian made products. Revitalizing the industry in Nigeria requires a multi-pronged approach that addresses various challenges. First, there is a need for enhanced collaboration between government agencies, industry stakeholders, and local communities. This collaboration should focus on developing and implementing sustainable forest management practices that ensure the responsible harvesting of timber resources.

How the wood industry in Nigeria can be revitalised.

By promoting reforestation efforts and enforcing regulations on logging and export, the industry can safeguard its long-term viability while preserving Nigeria’s rich biodiversity. Second, investment in technology and innovation is paramount for timbers revitalization. Embracing modern wood processing techniques, such as advanced sawmill technologies and value-added products, can enhance productivity, product quality, and market competitiveness. Additionally, promoting research and development initiatives aimed at diversifying product offerings, improving efficiency in timber processing, and exploring new markets can unlock new growth opportunities.

Moreover, promoting skill development programs and providing access to training and capacity-building initiatives can empower local workers and entrepreneurs, creating a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation and growth in the sector. Also, the production of timber plays a vital role in job creation and economic development. Beyond the direct employment in wood processing and export, the sector stimulates related industries such as furniture manufacturing, construction, and interior design, further boosting economic activities and livelihoods.

Related Article: Non-wood fiber can revive paper mills

Odiase expressed optimism that with the current policy guidelines and continued government support, the wood export industry in Nigeria is poised for substantial growth, contributing significantly to the nation’s economic development and sustainability efforts through responsible forest management practices. However, there are concerns among industry stakeholders regarding potential obstacles posed by certain officials within the Ministry of Environment. Any attempts to hinder the progress achieved so far could have detrimental effects on the sector’s potential and its contributions to Nigeria’s economy. So, ongoing collaboration between the government and industry stakeholders is crucial to ensure a thriving and sustainable exports in Nigeria.

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