The Participants, who were mainly basket weavers were trained in product development, standardization of handicraft products, export marketing, quality management, pricing and costing, among others, all aimed at enabling them to promote and export their products.
Speaking at the ceremony, the General Manager of GEPA, Mr. Stephen Normeshie , said his outfit, which is under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, had been mandated to develop and promote Non Traditional Exports in the country.
He said as part of the programme GEPA was assisting all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the country to identify and develop at least one potential product and to see how best it could be developed for export.
He stated that when that was achieved not only would it generate employment and income for the people and the MMDAs but would also help generate foreign exchange for the country.
The General Manager stated that in 2013 Ghana launched the National Export Strategy document targeting export earnings of 5billion US Dollars by 2017 and indicated that currently it had generated 2.5 billion US Dollars.
“To be able to achieve the set target we have to double the Non –Traditional Exports figures within the next three years. This informs the decision to empower you the handicraft producers including the MMDAs so that together we can work to achieve the set target”, Mr Normeshie said.
Mrs Theodora Froko, Head of Handicraft Department of GEPA said the Upper East Region was recognized internationally for its basket weaving and indicated that the training programme would help position the Region better in the global market.
She noted that the region’s handicraft products, including baskets, smock and leather works when supported to develop well, could help curb the rural urban migration in the area.
Mr Martin Akogti, the Officer of GEPA in charge of the Region hinted that plans were far advanced by GEPA to ensure that straw, which is the main raw material for basket weaving is grown in the Region to reduce the burden and cost of the weavers travelling to some parts of the southern sector in search of it.
He gave the assurance that GEPA would create the necessary and conducive environment to help promote Non-Traditional Exports in the Region and improve the livelihood of the people and impressed upon the people in the handicraft industry not to hesitate to consult the office to seek support.
Mr Alexander Dadzawa , Head of the Marketing Division of GEPA, who took the participants through topics such as Product Development and Adaptation, Group Marketing and Export Produce, Supply Constrains , Push and Pull factors, among others, entreated the participants to solidify their groups and explore new innovations in the industry.