By John Saukira
In its effort to contain the worrisome deforestation, Malawi government intends to only recognize charcoal producers who will be issued with legal licenses.
Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Welani Chilenga disclosed this on Thursday during a tree planting exercise organised by Malawi Weather Chasers WhatsApp Group in Nsambo Village in the area of Traditional Authority Chimutu in Lilongwe.
About 5,000 tree seedlings were planted around Katsumba forest, the beginning of a spirited effort by the people of Nsambo to conserve their community forest.
Charcoal production is one of the major causes of plunder of Malawi’s forests because the majority of the country’s citizens rely on charcoal for cooking and it is also a source of income for most of them.
In addition, high electricity tarrifs and minimal access to other sources of energy, makes charcoal the inevitable option for most citizens.
Chilenga said licensed charcoal is what people or enterprises will produce out of their own trees that they will be required to plant and that are sustainable.
“Government understands the need for the use of charcoal among its citizens and that is why we have come up with this initiative. We are committed to ending deforestation in the country,” said Chilenga.
He warned that any charcoal that is not licensed will be deemed illegal and will be confiscated as has always been the case.
He said government has so far issued out licenses to two enterprises that have already started producing licensed charcoal that is being sold in some of the shops across the country.
“We want to give out these licences to as many people as possible so that together we can stop this wanton depletion of our few forests.”
Chilenga added that government is working out how it can make electricity accessible and affordable to the majority of its citizens and is also sensitizing people to begin to try other sources of energy.
Malawi Weather Chasers WhatsApp Group, a large social forum comprising many eminent professionals such as weather and climate experts, environmentalists and members of the general public, was started in 2016 by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services to share weather predictions, forecasts and alerts.
According to the group’s chairperson Professor Sosten Chiotha, they believe in conservation of the environment by working with communities which are eager to their cause such as the people of Nsambo.