November 29, 2014

Caribbean cluster project to boost forestry sector

Guyana is seeking to use grant resources of US$500,000 from Compete Caribbean Cluster Project to improve the competitiveness of the forestry industry.
A consultant from the project is in Guyana, working with the key stakeholders to identify initiatives in which this money should be invested, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.
The consultant, Lars Soderstrom, together with some key industry stakeholders Friday met with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud at his office, to provide an update as it relates to Soderstrom’s discussions over the past weeks with the forestry communities and stakeholders, with regards to mechanisms that must be supported to make the industry competitive.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud with the consultant from Compete Caribbean Project, Lars Soderstrom and some key industry stakeholders in the forestry sector

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud with the consultant from Compete Caribbean Project, Lars Soderstrom and some key industry stakeholders in the forestry sector

Following the meeting, the minister spoke with GINA. He stated that the sector applied for, and was successful in tapping US$500,000 in grants for priority initiatives to increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector in the short, medium and long term.
“What we have done is to listen to the consultant, some of his suggestions based on consultations he would have had, and we are very close to the point where we have identified some key interventions that we need to support, interventions that have been made or new initiatives,” he explained.
“We recognise that the forestry sector can do better – it can be much more competitive, but it had some perennial challenges, challenges in terms of access to capital, infrastructure, high cost of energy and that which restrict value-added, better skills, better marketing… in terms of addressing those, the study and the work being done on this project would identify some of the issues that we have to tackle in terms of becoming a lot more competitive,” the minister said.

Capacity building
He said that a lot of emphasis will be placed on training, capacity building, better marketing, and widening the product range so as to increase value and competitiveness and outputs.
Focus will be on the long-term activities that the forestry sector can engage in to improve efficiency, recovery and ensure the sector makes not only a greater contribution to the national economy but has increased profitability for forest communities, and operators.
Soderstrom had discussions with the Amerindian community, forestry groups and the Forestry Products Association. Minister Persaud explained that he brought together for the meeting some of the persons with whom discussions were held so as to develop consensus on some of the views that were put to the consultant.
“We spoke very frankly and very openly on what we thought are some of the key issues and we seem to be heading in a direction whereby these interventions would lead to a much more competitive forestry sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, Soderstrom expressed pleasure in working with the industry. He said, “Guyana here, the industry has an opportunity to grow and be more profitable.”
“Hopefully, the Compete Caribbean programme can be the catalyst to bring in some investments and new ideas to the country so that we can improve competitiveness and create new jobs and investment.”
The objective of the Compete Caribbean Cluster Project is to enhance the competitiveness of the productive sector by supporting clusters and value chains to compete in regional and global markets.
As part of the project cluster, operations in the Caribbean are invited to apply for funding of up to US$500,000 for the development of a productive sector.

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