The Forestry Products Marketing Council of Guyana (FPMC) was recently established “to ensure the sustainability of Guyana’s forest products industry by increasing value and improving its competitiveness through enhanced market access and increased trade opportunities.” Functions include market intelligence, trade missions, developing industry and product information, and providing advice on export-related services such as product packaging and handling etc. The Council reports to the Ministry of Agriculture
Guyana’s Wood Products Industry: Investing Towards Value-added Production and New Markets.
In recent years, Guyana’s wood products sector has experienced a renaissance, with significant investments towards the manufacture and marketing of value-added and high-value niche products, as well as strides towards certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Examples include:
Barama: Investments in value-added and certified sustainable production – A Malaysian-owned firm, Barama is Guyana’s largest wood products company, contributing over 50 percent of the country’s exports in that sector. It supplies major home improvement clients such as Lowe’s Home Centers, who purchase 50 percent of Barama’s products. Although traditionally known for its plywood and milled lumber, Barama is investing US$35 million to expand production and diversify its products. The investment includes a state-of-the art sawmill, a kiln drying facility, a veneer plant, and a finishing facility for furniture components to be exported for assembly in Asia, for final export to Europe. Barama is planning on building a 3-megawatt co-generation plant. Through these investments, Barama expects to increase its volume and variety of exports to the U.S., Europe, Central America and the CARICOM region and create 500 jobs.
Barama has spent a number of years developing the systems and controls necessary to seek FSC certification, with help from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Once certified, Barama will be better positioned in a global market increasingly concerned about sustainable utilization of resources. Barama expects to receive a 5 – 10 percent premium on FSC certified wood.
Variety Woods & Greenheart: Investments in value-added wood production – Although it traditionally harvested and exported logs, Variety Woods and Greenheart Ltd. has continuously worked towards downstream, value-added production of both well-known and lesser-known wood species for export to the U.S. and Europe. This is based on the company’s understanding that Guyana must maximize the value it receives from its forestry resources for the industry to be sustainable and truly contribute to the national economy. As such, Variety Woods has recently invested in new machinery (e.g. molders, dust extractors, lathes, etc.) to produce value-added flooring, paneling and siding for export. Once complete, these investments are expected to increase product value by approximately 25 percent, without impacting the volume of wood extracted.
Liana Cane and Precision Woodworking: Collaborating in design and product lines – Two of Guyana’s leading furniture manufacturers, Liana Cane and Precision Woodworking have recently teamed up with a Canadian designer to design, prototype and manufacture a joint product line targeting niche furniture markets in the U.S. Under this scheme, each firm will manufacture furniture pieces and components for which they specialize—Liana Cane with rattan and cane pieces, and Precision with hardwood pieces. This represents a true leap forward for the Guyanese wood products industry, where inter-firm cooperation was traditionally limited. Through this collaboration, the two firms will be able diversify their product offerings, respond to larger orders, and access discriminating, high-value export markets, while at the same time enhancing Guyana’s image as a source for modern, stylish and quality furniture products.
Persons wishing to invest in any sector want evidence that the sector is competitive, profitable and well regulated. they also want the assurance that the sector is governed by appropriate legislation and policies, and the security that these would not be subject to ad-hoc changes in a manner that would have negative implications for their investment.
Guyana’s forest sector meets all of these conditions. For example, the sector has been manufac-turing forest products for both local/export markets for decades, but there still exists a tremendous potential for expansion to the already well-established as well as the newer markets. Average production for the last five (5) years is approximately 430,000 m3 of logs annually, and this can go as high as 1.6 million m3 annually and still meet the stringent sustainable manage- ment guidelines existing. Support to the sector is provided by the Guyana Forestry Commission
(GFC) which is the Government Agency responsible for the sustainable management of Guyana’ State forest resources. This Commission is well resourced; it has forest stations countrywide, some of which operate on a 24 hour basis. The GFC is supported by the Forest Products Development andMarketing Council (FPDMC), the Forestry Training Centre Inc.
(FTCI), University of Guyana (UG), Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA). The GFC and the other land use agencies such as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) all come under the oversight of the Ministry of Agriculture.
competing land uses are therefore now more harmonized- thus giving investors in the forestry sector a greater degree of security and comfort.