Charcoal surplus expected

23 September 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) has alerted its producers that a charcoal surplus may be experienced this year due to a shortage of shipping containers for export.

According to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), shipping lines are currently struggling to get enough containers loaded onto vessels for export to Europe.

“This is mainly due to the recent unrest in South Africa, which had an impact on harbours.”

The union says there is currently a huge backlog at the harbours to ship South African products to Europe.

Charcoal is seen as a low-priority commodity and is only loaded onto vessels if there is sufficient storage.

The NAU says the demand for Namibian charcoal has increased, but these logistical challenges might cause a surplus in Namibia.

“Shipping lines gave the NCA the assurance that this is only a temporary challenge, and the exports should return to normal within the next month or two.”

The union said farmers need to be aware of this and make the necessary arrangements with their financiers.

Namibia exported approximately 210 000 tonnes of charcoal in 2020. In 2019, the sector employed close to 10 000 workers, who produced about 200 000 tonnes of charcoal - up from 120 000 tonnes in 2018.

Charcoal is exported via truck to South Africa and further exported internationally.

The union said the draft Forestry Act is currently under review at the offices of the environment ministry and will soon be tabled in parliament.

Mopane off limits

Meanwhile, the forestry department has indicated that it will restrict the harvesting of mopane trees in the Outjo/Kamanjab area.

It said there is a huge concern that too many big trees are being harvested, which does not align with the principle of bush thinning.

“No new harvesting permits will be issued for harvesting big mopane trees until a survey has been done in the area showing that there is a need for the harvesting.”

All charcoal-producing farmers are urged to follow the NCA and forestry regulations and guidelines that were announced on 1 May this year, the union stressed.

It said the forestry directorate would not hesitate to suspend harvesting permits for three months if producers did not follow the regulations.

The NCA offers farmers training on the one-day burning technique. This technique considerably reduces the risk of veld fires.

Farmers can contact the NCA on (067) 304-220 to book on-farm training, which is offered in the local language of the charcoal workers.

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