Illegal charcoal production on the rise due to poverty — Forestry Officer

The Blantyre District Forestry Office (DFO) has attributed the rise in illegal charcoal production and selling to high poverty levels among Malawians.

Malawi charcoal sellers

Malawi is climbing up in its deforestation rate as power deficit force people to hack the forests to make charcoal.

Blantyre District Forestry Officer (DFO), Geoffrey Kanyerere said since the beginning of the year, the office has confiscated a total of 1, 759 bags of charcoal.

“From January 2017 up to date, we have confiscated 1, 759 bags of charcoal and if we compare this figure to last year’s figure during the same months, we can see that the figure has risen,” said Kanyerere.

Kanyerere pointed out that most Malawians cannot afford to use electricity for cooking and that this is offering more markets to illegal charcoal traders.

“Since most Malawians opt to use charcoal as a cheaper option, more people are also going into this business regardless of the department’s call to the general public to conserve the environment,” said Kanyerere.

He further said that the office expects the figures to rise because of the cold winter season.

However, he said it is the duty of his office to do more on the confiscation of the illegal charcoal but at times they are hindered due to the shortage of operational funds.

The DFO also said that all charcoal that is confiscated by the office is sold to the general public and the revenue collected is deposited into government’s account.

“As a sector, we sensitize or civic educate the general public to be responsible for their own environment. Trees conserve the soil which is the basis of agriculture and agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy,” said Kanyerere.

On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, a truck full of charcoal belonging to a charcoal vendor by the name Makolokoto was intercepted at Lunzu Roadblock.

According to Kanyerere, the truck was coming from Neno which is the biggest charcoal producer towards Blantyre, the biggest charcoal consumer.

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