Response to article “Illegal charcoal market end nears” published on Friday, 18 October 2019.
The Namibia Charcoal Association wants to inform its members and the general public that an article appeared last week Friday in one of the popular Namibian magazines that sparked an outrage among the charcoal community. Please bear in mind that we have no control over what is published in our newspapers. The original article as it was intended was placed last week Thursday already on our website. We understand why the news reporter used the inaccurate title for the article as he was concerned about farms where our environment is neglected and wrong processes are followed. This is also indeed a concern for us as Namibian citizens. However, we want to make it clear that most of our farms follow good practices and are responsible in their harvesting and production practices. We strongly support any good standard which is sustainable and responsible to our beautiful country. FSC currently is the only formalised standard, therefore we support it strongly and encourage our members to acquire this certification. This will enable our members to have two markets, FSC and non-FSC. Our South African processors and buyers have always taken our non-FSC charcoal and have continuously assured us that there will always be a market for the non-FSC charcoal. This year many producers could not sell their charcoal due to an over-supply. Many producers therefore switched to the FSC certification for their farmland to be able to offset their products internationally. At the NCA we cannot prescribe to anybody which route to follow we can only advise and it is up to producers to investigate and confirm that there is indeed a market for their product.
We urge our members to discuss this with us, and we will engage with them at our office. Its is our policy not to remark on any statements made on social media or the printed media, however, the article urged us to make this statement public to our members.
The NCA is also very grateful towards our strong non-FSC market – our South African counterparts have always been there for our Namibian producers and we will continue to work with them as well.
One last word of caution, the charcoal market is a volatile market and things can change overnight. We must be prepared to be more agile and react to market trends as and when they appear.