Wood industry can enhance Nigeria’s revenue diversification efforts – Expert

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By Rukayat Moisemhe

Mrs Ngozi Oyewole, Chairman Wood/Wood Products Sectoral Group, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), says the wood and wood products industry can significantly contribute to the nation’s revenue diversification efforts.

Oyewole, also the founder of Noxie Ltd., made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday.

To maximise the sector’s potential, Oyewole said it was important to give it the necessary visibility and support.

She noted that the sector deserved attention in the form of policy support, infrastructural and skills development, market access and research as well as innovation.

She suggested that the federal government could provide policy support by creating a conducive business environment for the wood sector, including incentives for investment and development.

The wood expert added that improving infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water supply in areas where wood production is concentrated could boost the sector’s growth.

Oyewole stressed the need to invest in training and capacity building for workers in the wood industry to enhance productivity and quality standards.

She said that facilitating access to local and international markets through trade agreements and promotional activities could help wood products reach a wider audience.

“By implementing these strategies, the wood and wood products sector in Nigeria can realise its full potential and contribute significantly to economic diversification and growth,” she said.

Oyewole, however, noted that several challenges faced the wood and wood products sector in Nigeria such as illegal logging, poor infrastructure, lack of access to finance, and inconsistent government policies.

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Others, she said, were competition from imported products, limited value addition and sustainability challenges.

“Illegal logging poses a significant threat to the sector, leading to deforestation, environmental degradation, and loss of revenue for legitimate businesses.

“Limited access to finance for investment in modern equipment, technology, and capacity building constrains the sector’s growth and modernisation.

“Addressing these challenges will require concerted efforts from both the government and industry stakeholders to create a more enabling environment for the wood and wood products sector to thrive and contribute effectively to Nigeria’s economic development,” she added.

Oyewole stated that addressing
the challenges facing the wood and wood products sector in Nigeria could lead to several benefits for the economy.

She said the sector’s development could contribute to economic diversification by reducing dependence on oil revenue and creating new sources of income and employment.

Oyewole added that developing the wood industry could generate employment opportunities across the value chain, from forestry and logging to wood processing, manufacturing, and marketing.

She explained that a thriving wood sector could also generate significant revenue through exports of value-added wood products, contributing to foreign exchange earnings and economic growth.

“Promoting sustainable forest management practices in the wood sector can help conserve natural resources, protect biodiversity, and mitigate climate change impacts.

“Investing in the wood industry can spur industrial growth, encourage innovation and technology transfer, and enhance the competitiveness of Nigerian products in domestic and international markets.

“Enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the wood sector can uplift rural communities dependent on forestry activities, reducing poverty and inequality.

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“By addressing the challenges facing the wood and wood products sector in Nigeria, the country can unlock these benefits and create a more sustainable and inclusive economy for future generations,” she said.

Oyewole further said that while the wood industry had traditionally been perceived as male-dominated, there was a growing recognition of the valuable contributions women make to the sector.

She, however, said that gender balance remained a challenge and that there was still a significant gender gap in the wood industry, which required several actions.

She encouraged companies in the wood industry to promote gender diversity and create inclusive work environments that support the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in various roles.

Oyewole called for training programmes, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities for women interested in pursuing careers in the wood sector, including technical skills training, business management, and leadership development.

“We must raise awareness about the opportunities available for women in the wood industry through targeted outreach, campaigns, and partnerships with women’s organisations and educational institutions.

It is important to establish support networks, forums, and platforms for women in the wood sector to connect, share experiences, exchange knowledge, and access resources for professional growth and empowerment.

“We must also identify and address barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the wood industry, such as cultural stereotypes, limited access to finance, lack of childcare support, and unequal opportunities for career advancement,” she said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa

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