Five organizations in Ghana have signed agreements with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) under the latter’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme aimed at supporting the private sector implement its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

The organizations which will receive grants from the FAO under the agreements they signed are the Nature and Development Foundation, the Kumasi Wood Cluster Association, the Ghana Timber Millers Organization, the Timber Development Division and the Resource Management Support Centre.

They are expected to use the funding to undertake projects which support Ghana’s VPA implementation. Ghana and the European Union (EU) signed the VPA in November 2009 to address the problem of illegal logging and trade in the associated illegal timber products.

Speaking at the signing of the agreements here Wednesday, the Head of the EU delegation to Ghana, William Hanna, said the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) which came into force in 2013 had placed an obligation on the European private sector to ensure that their timber supplies are coming from legal sources.

He said recent efforts across the EU for greater enforcement of the EUTR was driving demand for FLEGT licences, which Ghana would soon be in a position to issue to meet all its due diligence obligations under the EUTR.

Hanna added that in anticipation of the supply of FLEGT-licensed timber, there was a growing interest in the EU market in better understanding the systems, procedures and processes which resulted in the issuance of such a licence.

In this connection, there would be a visit to Ghana from representatives of EU trade associations and their membership to develop the understanding by coming to see for themselves how the system would operate.

“The decision to make this visit to Ghana is an acknowledgement of the progress that has been made here towards licensing,” Hanna said.

Dr Abebe Haile Gabriel Gebreyohannes, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Country Representative to Ghana, commended the government of Ghana for the efforts and measures to improve the governance of its forestry sector. The actions were bringing Ghana closer to fulfilling its commitment to implement the VPA and also bringing significant benefits to the population.