Delivering the welcome speech in Bareilly Mr. Rajeev Parashar, managing editor at the Ply Reporter said that people in UP are equally enthusiastic to gather in large numbers for technical development. It shows the eagerness of change to better materials. Mr. Rajeev invited other speakers to share their views on Okoume face veneer during the seminar. Mr. Virendra Agarwal, President, Bareilly Plywood Manufacturers’ Association said that face veneer price have increased many folds from what it was ten years before. Majority of buyers don’t know the species of face. It is we or the dealers who popularize the species among customers hence accepting Okoume is no big issue specially when it either covered by mica or painted when it is applied.
Mr Pragat Dvivedi said that the cost component of face veneer in case of Gurjan for a North based plymanufacturer is 21%, whereas Okoume component is just 8 % hence plywood producers shall opt for a cheaper face veneer species specially when its adds no strength to plywood. It is inevitable to adopt Okoume whether it is today or tomorrow or six months later.
Interactive session with panels which included; Mr Kailash Nimani (Veneer producer at Gabon); Mr Umesh Nimani (Plywood manufacturer); Mr Jasveer Singh, CEO, Gabon SEZ and Mr. Ajay Sardana etc with present industry gathering. The discussion was moderated by Mr Pragat Dvivedi. Speaking on opportunity and challenges and sustainability Mr Kailsah Nimani said, “Today nearly 20 units for face veneer are there and no one is facing the scarcity of timber in Gabon. We are receiving demand from India and planning for European markets to export Okoume veneer.
People from across the world are coming to Gabon to source Okoume face. Okoume has quality that one can get any thickness from this specie.” On timber availability and challenges before that in coming times Mr Jasveer Singh said, “Gabon can produce 37000 containers of Okoume face veneer from Gabon forest and at present approx calculations shows that for sustainable supplies. We can generate nearly 17000 containers of face veneer.” He assured there is no possibility of scarcity of timber or face for coming 100 years; Secondly, Gabon also has strategically geographical source of Okoume from Kongo and other parts of African countries from where timber can be available.
He further said, “Today Gabon is coming up as a developing industrialized country and the industrial infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and other amenities are being developed at rapid pace. We are working on bulk shipping strategies and with that the shipping as well as transportation time will reduce; hence within 40 days the product will reach to India.”
Mr Umesh Nimani and Mr. Ajay Sardana also put industry views on perception related to grading, cost, supply and sustainable pricing. Mr Deepak Agarwal raised a question of demand and supply gap as there are 20 units of face producers at Gabon at present, hence supplies from them will increase if their production capacity increases by double which will ensure the sustainable supply with grading according to Indian needs.Mr. Girish Sharma and Mr. Praveen Choudhary of Greenply briefed about the technical features of Okoume face veneer. Mr Pragat Dvivedi briefed the seminar discussion and while concluding he said, “If there is uniform grading, plywood manufacturers are ready to move ahead with Okoume face. If the factories maintain their continuous inventory requirement and face is available in 50 days then Okoume can be a dependable specie. He further said “Seminar on face veneer is a preparatory initiative by the Ply Reporter to aware Plywood manufacturers to shift their production to Okoume and save their input cost. Any change takes time and manufacturers can take it as an option with other face available to them and gradually according to their margin, profitability and market acceptance move ahead.”
It is a matter of applicability and taking action as quick as possible, but it is clear that Okoume is a sustainable available face for long and industry will shift to it now or then it is a perception and observation of the Ply Reporter. In the year 2019 around 900 containers will start arriving to India.