The government offering of license to charcoal production which is the first of its kind, comes amid uncertainties of charcoal crisis in the country urban demand for the product account for 90 % with unregulated trade estimated a MK5.78 billion (US$41.3 million) per year.
The 6.08 million standards bags of charcoal was estimated being used in the country’s main cities for about 1.4 million cubic metres of wood representing equivalent volume of 15,000 hectares of forestland cut in 2007.The development which has contributed deforestation with adverse impact to low income livelihoods in most rural areas of the nation.
In an exclusive interview with The Maravi Post on Wednesday, September 16, Ben Botolo Principal Secretary for Environment and Climate Change said the license aimed igniting the general public interest to own their forests which can be used for commercial purposes.
Botolo emphasized that government will only issue permission for charcoal production to those owning plantations and continue tracking down individuals tampering forest reserves.
“Looking at the country’s deforestation rate, issuing licenses to those managing the natural resources was the way to go. This will encourage the nation to embrace the spirit of planting trees such that with good management they can harvest its products at their will after getting a nod from government.
“So, any person who has a plantation by following procedures will be given a license to use its products. But those still tampering protected areas such as Dzalanyama the law will catch them .We want people to be responsible towards their natural resources”, said Botolo.
The Maravi Post late caught up with Tanya Clarke, Kawandama Hills Plantation Director who expressed gratitude for being given a license which will necessitate the institution to venture into sustainable way of managing the natural resources.
Clarke said charcoal production was still on the trial while weighing the cost benefit of producing the product for commercial purposes as the plantation’s core business was to extract oil from the trees similar of Blue gum as charcoal is remains a by-product.
“We are determined to serve Malawians better with natural resources products. The core business of the plantation including the use of tree leaves for medicinal products and oil extraction such that charcoal comes second as the by-product.
“Trails are underway to assess the market value of charcoal production in Malawi as we can’t compete with the already illegal trade. After fully done with the trials, we will roll out the campaign across the nation encouraging the general public start owning their plantation.
“The license give it’s a true reflection of Malawi government commitment to explore other means of managing the environment sustainably as such we won’t abuse the offer but rather serve the nation better”, assures Clarke.
Kawandama Hills Plantation which is also known as Citrefine was established in 2009 such that yearly about 800 seedlings are planted in 10 hectares of land within Viphya Plateau for primarily on export quality Lemon Eucalyptus oil and the extraction of from the leaves for medicinal products.