Straw Basket Dealers and Exporters in the Upper East Region have called on government to enact a legal document that would regulate the sector, boost growth and prevent foreign intrusion.
They said the basket business was the main viable economic livelihood venture of the people in the region.
However, of late individuals and foreigners, who are not associated with any basket dealer or exporter organization are trooping into the market to buy the baskets directly from the weavers without any regulations or restrictions.
They said the phenomenon was adversely affecting the progress of the business and their livelihood was taken over by outsiders.
They made the call at Bolgatanga at the official launch of the Noyinnemaltaaba Baskets Dealers and Exporters Association (NOBDEA), a group of basket dealers and exporter organizations.
The Association, which currently has 38 members, was formed about five years ago with the aim of bringing dealers and exporters organizations of baskets together to find solutions to challenges facing the sector.
Mr Ayezeriba Agana, the Chairman of NOBDEA said the sector employed over 200,000 people including; women and youth and impacting positively on their lives and therefore pragmatic measures needed to be taken to protect their business.
“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.
Due to these actions, the Chairman stated, foreign buyers have begun to lose interest in the Bolgatanga Baskets and noted that dealers and exporters have therefore moved to make the association known to buyers both nationally and internationally.
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.
“We will surely need a legal backing to ensure that organizations or individuals who want to venture into the exportation of baskets must be part of the Association and work within the regulations of the Association so that buyers will deal directly with only members of the Association.
Mr Agana explained that when law empowers the Association to prevent and take actions against any individual or organization who was not a member of the Association but engages in the basket exporting business with their buyers and buying from the weavers would be maintained for the younger generation and help the Assemblies effectively to collect the needed taxes on all baskets.
Mr Martin Akogti, the Upper East and Upper West Regional Zonal Coordinator of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) explained that baskets which were one of the non-traditional exports contributed immensely to growth of the economy and therefore efforts must be made to protect the business for the local people.
In a speech read on her behalf, Ms Tangoba Abayage, the Regional Minister 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 improve on quality and address challenges facing the industry.