Straw Basket Dealers and Exporters in the Upper East Region have called on the government, to as a matter of urgency, support the industry enact a legal framework to regulate the sector to help prevent foreign investors from exploiting them in purchasing the commodity.
The dealers and exporters made the call in Bolgatanga during the official launch of the “Noyinnemaltaaba Baskets Dealers and Exporters Association (NOBDEA)”, a group of basket dealers and exporter organisations on Monday.
The Chairman of NOBDEA, Mr Ayezeriba Agana, who stressed that the basket business was the main source of the livelihoods of the people in the region, stated that in recent times, middlemen and foreigners who were not associated with the sector took undue advantage of the ignorant of basket weavers and the Ghanaian’s exporter to exploit them
He said the situation was affecting the progress of the business and the livelihood of the people in the region
He said the Association which has 38 members was formed about five years ago with the main objectives of bringing dealers and exporters of basket organisations together to find solutions to the challenges confronting the sector.
He said the sector had employed over 200,000 people, including the women and youth and making significant impact on their lives and could do better if the government paid special attention to the sector.
“We have received complaints of fraud from foreign buyers with many of them indicating that people have received monies from them with the promise of supplying them baskets which they never got. Some also complained of poor quality of the baskets and these fraudsters usually claim to be part of one of the exporting organizations in the region, however, none of these imposters are part of our groups since the buyers are always unable to identify them,” he stressed.
The Chairman explained that based on this fraud many foreign buyers had begun losing interest in patronising the Bolgatanga Baskets and stated that it was against this background that dealers and exporters had decided to form the formidable association to be recognised as the only dealers and buyers at the both national and international levels
He said the Association was seeking the endorsement and support of all stakeholders, especially local government authorities to employ all laws aimed at protecting and promoting local businesses to help do away with the direct patronage and domination of foreigners in the local basket market.
Mr Martin Akogti, the Upper East Regional Zonal Coordinator of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) who doubled as the Upper West Regional Coordinator, pointed out that the sector was one of the non- traditional exports in the country and contributed immensely to growth of the economy.
He therefore reiterated the need for all stakeholders particularly the government tohelp protect the business for the local people.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Ms Tangoba Abayage, urged dealers, producers and exporters in the basket sector to collaborate with stakeholders such as GEPA, Ghana Tourism Authority and National Board for Small Scale Industries among others to strengthen the sector.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BOLGATANGA