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Southern Farmers Association warns against illegal wood harvesting …as charcoal burners increase

by Rodney Pienaar

The Southern Farmers Association (SFA) has sent a warning to charcoal burners to apply all precautions in order to avoid unwanted veld fires. 

Farmers in the southern parts of the country have recorded numerous damages to fields caused by illegal charcoal burners, SFA member John Anderson told The Villager.

“Before charcoal production is started, all charcoal producers must inform all neighbouring farmers and local farmers’ associations of the intention to start charcoal production in writing and obtain a signed acknowledgement. We further urged them to obtain written permission from the farm owner on whose farm charcoal will be produced with agreed upon fire prevention measures,” he said.

He added that people should report charcoal burners who are not fully complying with the fire prevention and management actions to the forestry office, for investigations to be launched and have their harvesting permits cancelled.  

Anderson also said that each charcoal producer should have a first aid medical bag with burn shields and must keep 10 extra fire beaters at burners’ living quarters for personal use.

“Fire-fighting machines can be borrowed from regional forestry offices but should be handed back immediately after use so that they can be serviced, repaired and made available to other producers, and must ensure that dams are full for use by fire fighters,” Anderson told The Villager. 

He added that extra water drums can be made available to quickly resupply fire fighter machines.

Meanwhile, a ton of charcoal has a market value of N$1 500.

Last year, The Villager reported that the agriculture ministry confiscated about 1 080 tonnes of illegally produced charcoal to the tune of N$1 620 000.

The ministry had also announced that it was going to collaborate with stakeholders to get rid of illegal harvesting of charcoal. 

Britain imports 80 % of the 60 000 tonnes of charcoal it burns each year, with Namibia being the biggest supplier.