• It is not possible for ZAFFICO to reduce the prices because the institution needs money to survive.
• ZAFFICO is experiencing volume gap, it last planted timber in 2004.
• Government must pump in more money into ZAFFICO so that they can fill up the volume gap.
Timber Producers Association of Zambia (TPAZ) says timber traders will be disadvantaged if Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) revises prices upwards in its review of volumes and prices in January 2023.
Speaking in an interview with Money FM News, Association President Charles Masange said it is not possible for ZAFFICO to reduce the prices because the institution needs money to survive.
Mr. Masange noted that currently, ZAFFICO is experiencing volume gap because it last planted timber in 2004 and has never expanded its plantations, and traders are given 210 cubic meters of timber in 3 months, therefore the review of volumes, is likely to reduce the 210 cubic meters to about 150 for them to survive and fill the volume gap.
“We observe that ZAFFICO is trying to review the volumes that will be given to the timber traders and prices in order to make the local people benefit. It’s not only the local people to benefit, ZAFFICO also has to survive. ZAFFICO last planted timber in 2004 and they have never expanded their plantations so there is a volume gap where ZAFFICO did not generate their forests, as a result, there is a shortage that is why they have been allocating the volumes to the timber traders maybe one can be given 210 cubic meters of timber in 3 months, a company which is supposed to survive.”
“Right now, even if they say let us review the volumes, I don’t think they will review to increase that 210 cubic meters, they may now reduce to 150 or so. Of course, there has been a lot of timber which the locals buy and export to Congo DR whereby there is little timber that floats around the country, as a result, the only mediation that we have had is the timber that is imported from Tanzania and Malawi. Without that, the price of timber would have gone up maybe five times the cost that is why we have been cushioned by Malawi and Tanzania timber,” Mr. Masange stated.
He however said timber that is imported from Malawi and Tanzania is not mature enough compared to ZAFFICO timber because most of it is not coming from the state timber plantations, but from individual hook lops.
“That is why when you buy timber which is coming from Malawi or Tanzania, it will bend on the roof because it is not mature, of course ZAFFICO timber is mature. Now I don’t know what they mean by reviewing the prices because I don’t think there is any way they can review downwards, maybe they are trying to review upwards which will disadvantage our members, but of course ZAFFICO has to survive and the only way it can survive is to fill that gap to stagger its volumes, it doesn’t have a lot of volumes, it can collapse anytime,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Masange called on government to pump in more money into ZAFFICO so that the institution can fill up the timber volume gap and be able to supply wooden poles to Zesco when need arises instead of importing from other countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“So we understand ZAFFICO’s decision so it needs money, we are appealing to government to pump in more money into ZAFFICO so that they can fill up that gap which we are facing right now, especially if they are given orders by ZESCO to supply poles, they can raise enough money to sustain themselves than importing poles from other countries like south Africa and Zimbabwe. ZAFFICO needs to be supported,” Mr. Masange said.
Recently, ZAFFICO Communications Manager Irene Chipili disclosed that the institution is expected to review the volume and prices of timber and round wood, effective January 2023 in order to make the local people benefit.
Ms. Chipili said ZAFFICO is aware of the numerous challenges being faced by local timber traders, as they are competing with foreign traders who are selling their produce at cheaper prices.
She added that ZAFFICO has been receiving applications from small scale timber traders who intend to conduct business with the cooperation, to allow a fresh registration, an exercise which opened on 1st November 2022.