The Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Eng. Collins Nzovu MP, has called for a commercial partnership between the Forestry Department and the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO).
During a visit to the ZAFFICO Kawambwa Plantation, Minister Nzovu expressed concern about the significant amount of timber being imported into the country from East Africa, despite Zambia’s potential to produce timber for internal use.
Accompanied by a team of officers from the Forestry Department, the Zambia Meteorological Department, and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency, Minister Nzovu is currently in Luapula Province to inspect and monitor forest reserves, illegal timber harvesting, mining activities, and meteorological stations.
He emphasized that ZAFFICO, which is partly owned by the government, should leverage its Scientific Research Unit’s technical expertise in forestry. Minister Nzovu believes that ZAFFICO is strategically positioned to meet the timber market’s demands and encouraged the corporation to scale up its efforts.
ZAFFICO’s Plantation Manager, Ms. Rabia Ali, shared that the corporation is importing seedlings to enable local production, thereby reducing input costs. ZAFFICO currently plants 5,000 hectares of trees annually.
During his visit, Minister Nzovu also assessed the rubber plantation in Nchelenga District, which is government-owned. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the current state of the nursery and urged its expansion to increase the hectarage.
Addressing the District Forestry Office, Minister Nzovu emphasized the need to align with the government’s vision to create investment opportunities and generate employment for the people. He expressed concern about the office’s current practices and urged them to ensure clear boundaries for the plantation.
Assuring the Minister, Luapula Provincial Forestry Officer Mr. Stephen Katongo pledged to implement the consolidated plan already in place for rubber plantations. This move aims to boost employment opportunities and foster rural development, given the long economic life of rubber.
Mr. Katongo stated that the department would remap the area to identify available land for rubber plantations and address any encroachments. Additionally, the office plans to lobby traditional leaders for more land to expand the existing hectarage.
The Minister’s visit underscores the government’s commitment to sustainable forestry practices and underscores the potential for greater collaboration between the Forestry Department and ZAFFICO to optimize Zambia’s forest resources.