Friday, November 19, 2010

Pine timber crisis warning

COMMENT - Why would the sawmillers depend on donor funds? Aren't they in the private sector?

Pine timber crisis warning
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Fri 19 Nov. 2010, 04:04 CAT

COPPERBELT Saw-millers’ and Timber Growers’ Association chairman Nick O’Conn-or predicts that Zambia will run out of pine timber in the next 10 years.

Speaking at a COSTIGA meeting at Kafubu Inn in Ndola yesterday, O’connor asked the Zambian government to release the $24 million donated by the Danish and Finish governments that it had been holding on to for the past one year for support to the private sector to empower and improve the timber and forestry industry.

“Zambia is facing another grave crisis; ZAFFICO Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation is utilising 1,800 hectares of timber a year, calculated without taking theft into account so it is 1,800 plus, but we are planting less than 1,000. For the past 15 years we have planted much less than we have harvested and we can conclusively say that in the next 10 years Zambia will run out of pine timber and will have to import to build houses,” he said.

O’Connor said 2010 was a difficult year for most sawmillers, adding that apart from being a wet year that made harvesting difficult with the state of roads in the plantation, millers had to contend with serious third-party buying that had been crippling the industry.

He said third-party buying was illegal as the buyers were bribing ZAFFICO staff to steal extra round wood, making a direct loss to ZAFFICO and the country.

“The next urgent issue is the empowerment of the more than 300 small-scale sawmillers who are battling with viability because of the third party buying and because they were under-capitalised at the beginning and could only afford the inefficient thick circular blade saws that create a large amount of saw dust meaning the millers sell less for each tree cut. This is costing Zambia dearly,” he said.

“I commend the Danish and Finish governments for their farsightedness in seeing the need for assistance. They have offered $24 million for support to the private sector to empower and improve the timber and forestry industry.

Unfortunately, these funds are stuck in government, and the private sector cannot access it. We have written to the minister for help and hopefully will be invited to a meeting where we will request that the ministry facilitates unlocking the funds to help our industry and Zambia.”

He said the association had come up with a double plan to mitigate the effects on Zambia in an event that the country runs out of pine timber.

O’Connor said the other plan was for all members of the association to assist ZAFFICO with planting and cultivation to meet the 3,000 hectare per year of timber that Zambia needs.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home