Zambia—Charcoal remains an essential commodity not only in Zambia but in Africa as well.
This is because the commodity is cheap, efficient, and easily transportable making it the main energy source in rapidly growing urban areas.
Zonk News has however established that some of the regulations put in place to reduce deforestation while suppressing the charcoal trade have resulted in ‘grey markets’ where criminality and corruption allow illegally produced charcoal to be sold.
The Forestry Department in Chifunabuli District in Luapula Province has confiscated 16 bicycles and 36 bags of charcoal from 16 illegal charcoal burners.
Decades of unchecked wood harvesting have taken a toll on the country’s woodlands and indigenous trees.
This follows a joint patrol by officers from Chembe, Mansa, and Chifunabuli Districts aimed at curbing illegal charcoal trading in the area
After the patrol, Chifunabuli District Forestry Officer, Memory Simangolwa said the probing was one of the control measures put in place to ensure that illegal cutting down of trees in the district is minimized.
“As a department, patrols and confiscation of illegal charcoal by banners in the district is one of the measures put in place to ensure that the illegal cutting down of trees is minimized as it can lead to deforestation,” she said.
According to Simangolwa, the department spent 14 days at the charcoal market educating them on the importance of getting permits.
“Prior to the patrols, our department spent 14 days by at the charcoal market and ensured that the charcoal sellers were well educated on the need for them to get permits in order for them to trade legally and had no excuse of trading without licenses,” she explained.
Adding that once confiscated, the charcoal becomes state property, and the bicycles are only released to the owners upon payment of a fine of K300.
“Once confiscated, the charcoal becomes state property and is to be sold by the department, and the bicycles are only released to the owners upon payment of a fine of 300 kwacha and the money raised will be used to plant trees in the planting season which is held annually from 15th November to 15th January,’’ she said.
Research by the World Agroforestry -ICRAF indicates that farmers are now making less profit as transporters charge higher fees due to the increased restriction