Value-added products key to keeping forestry sector viable – Min Bharrat

As global demand for sustainably sourced products grows, the need to move beyond exporting raw materials and make the shift towards value-added products has become increasingly urgent.

Similarly, as Guyana continues to develop, maintaining upward mobility on a number of value chains across a range of sectors, Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat said investing in these value-added products could be the key to ensuring the long-term viability of the forestry sector.

Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat

He made the point while discussing Guyana’s sustainable approach to energy sector development at the International Energy Conference and Expo 2023 at the Marriott Hotel on Wednesday.

“Eighty-six per cent of Guyana is covered in forest. We have one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world, 0.05 per cent. One of the lowest deforestation rates in the world. Even our low carbon development strategy, speaks to a deforestation rate of 0.07 per cent. We are way below that…And we are gearing the sector right now to even further reduce our deforestation rate by ensuring that it’s safe, but at the same time ensuring that the sector remains viable,” Minister Bharrat stated.

As such, he emphasised, the solution to keeping the forestry sector viable, while retaining a low deforestation rate, is through the manufacturing of value-added products.

“We have never really benefitted from the value-added products in our country. We have mainly been exporting our primary products. And there goes our major revenue, our opportunities for job creation, and the private sector opportunities for the provision of goods and services. But we are working towards changing that,” he said.

Recently, President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced that the government will be embarking on a venture to create a wood-based 50-home settlement to cater to those in the niche market of luxury.

The eco-friendly, resort-style homes will feature an exotic blend of natural landscaping and modern architecture, as well as locally-sourced trees, to give its residents a fully ‘Amazonian-style’ living experience.

The settlement is only part of the forestry sector’s attempts to diversify output for the sector’s improvement over the years.

Other private sector initiatives include the exportation of pre-fabricated homes for low-income earners, the production and export of wallaba shingles, and other wooden furniture pieces utilised primarily in the tourism and housing sectors around the world.

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