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Local timber market might be too small – forestry director

Director of Forestry Joseph Hailwa said the bigger local timber processors might not be sustained by the local market.

This comes after Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta announced the ban on the export of unprocessed and semi-processed would.

Although local producers have expressed concern over the local demand, Hailwa told Eagle FM on Monday that he hopes the local demand for timber will increase as most of Namibia’s unprocessed and semi-processed timber goes to the international market.

“There has been some timber processing in the country who have been there before will be sustained by the current availability of resources but the bigger companies might not be sustained,” Hailwa said.

However, Hailwa is confident that Namibia’s about 40 to 50 local timber processors will be sustained by the local market and natural resources.

According to The Namibian, figures show most of the country’s timber is exported to China and Vietnam while smaller quantities go to Saudi Arabia, Germany and Greece.

“Minus the tourists, it is a bit of a challenge for (timber) business in Namibia that are influenced by the visitors to Namibia as they actually support the businesses,” Hailwa said.

Despite some demand from local companies that want unprocessed wood, Hailwa admitted the current demand will not sustain the local producers.

“If we are talking about the current demand it might not consume everything at once but as time goes they need that product and they will consume that,” Hailwa said.

The ministry will issue transport permits for already harvested timber destined for the local market.

Hailwa said currently there is quite a significant amount of timber harvested in the Kavango East and West regions thus processors will have business until that runs out.

“(The processors) can be supplied locally and if they run out of wood then they can import from elsewhere,” the director added.

Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta last week said that no export permits will be issued for unprocessed or semi processed timber.

Export will only be allowed for research, education, cultural or disease identification purposes.

“At this stage, we want to focus on monitoring and facilitating the utilization of already harvested timber in the country,” Shifeta said.

The Directorate of Forestry earlier this year halted the issuance of transport and timber harvesting licenses.

Julia Heita

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