LAHORE - Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) has urged the public and private sectors to join hands for raising its forest cover from 5 to 25 percent to meet the growing demand of wood for furniture industry in the country.

Talking to the media here on Sunday, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq said that currently, paper, furniture and local industries were experiencing serious supply shocks which were not only impeding their further growth and but also adversely affecting their international competitiveness. He urged the furniture industry to remain resilient by innovating, adopting technology as well as diversifying export markets in order to sustain demand in the long run.

"We have to overcome challenges to strengthen our market share; we must continue to produce innovative and market-oriented products to deal with the challenging times", he added. He said that in the absence of enough supplies of wood, cheaper furniture made of fancy and laminated sheets of chipboard had flooded the local market. He said wooden furniture, like that of Shishum wood, is quite expensive that is why Shishum's furniture was made for selected buyers only.

"People find it easy to get a four-piece bedroom-set in a range of Rs100,000 and that's why chipboard furniture remains most sought after", he said and added that Shishum wood furniture was still very expensive and that's why people prefer cheaper Russian diyar furniture.

A visit to furniture market reveals that a simple chair made of Shishum wood sells at Rs3,500 and its price increases with carving up to Rs10,000, he said and added that most buyers could not afford teak furniture.

Kashif said Pakistan needed mass tree plantation at plain, hilly and other empty areas with the support of private organisations and the government to meet the demands of growing furniture industry. He said about 500,000 workers were employed in forestry sector and its related business like logging, carpentry, and timber products manufacturing, and tourism and the forests contribute only 0.3 percent to GDP due to low area.

He said the Pakistan furniture industry has the potential to be a substantial one at multiple levels as it can contribute significantly to the GDP and employ numerous people with varying skills in specialist furniture.