Call for timber factories

Valuable wood should not be sold cheaply

09 July 2019 | Agriculture

The Muzokumwe Volunteers Association (MVA) is calling for timber factories to be built in Namibia, as it is strongly opposed to the practice of selling centuries-old trees for peanuts.

MVA chairperson Paulus Mbangu said during a public lecture held in Rundu at the weekend that timber from the two Kavango regions should not be sold cheaply.

He called on timber factories to be built that create employment for local youth.

Youth unemployment in Kavango East stands at about 63%, while in Kavango West it is currently at about 47%.

“We have timber, a lot of timber that can enable us to come up with timber factories, unlike the tendency that we just picked up that there are some who want to sell timber like vetkoek at a price of N$300,” Mbangu said.

“Muzokumwe does not support that; we destroy our natural resources for N$300, while the Chinese are selling it for N$12 000. We do not support that. Our timber must be used by creating timber factories within the region and providing employment for the youth.”

Mbangu's comments come at a time when farmers in both Kavango regions are desperately calling on government to lift the moratorium on timber-harvesting activities that was effected from March this year.

The forestry ministry suspended all timber-harvesting permits, after the environment ministry stepped in using the Environmental Management Act of 2007.

The Act mandates the ministry to preserve the country's natural resources from exploitation, as it requires one to be in possession of an environmental clearance certificate when it comes to activities such as timber-harvesting.

This has hit farmers in the timber business very hard. Harvested timber is currently rotting on farms, resulting in employees not being paid, while those who took loans from financial institutions are not able to pay them. Last month the Kavango East Regional Farmers Union (KERFU) had the opportunity to engage Vice-president Nangolo Mbumba in Rundu on the matter.

They expressed their dissatisfaction and called for the ban on timber-harvesting to be lifted.

They also informed Mbumba about their challenges.

As it stands no one is allowed to harvest timber in Namibia until they have received an environmental clearance certificate.