Ray Bande Senior Reporter
STATE-owned timber processing firm Allied Timbers recently acquired US$550 000 worth of machinery as the company moves out of near desolation.
The machinery, which includes five 20-tonne haulage trucks, four tractors and compressor, was officially handed over to the company units recently by Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Cde Mangaliso Ndlovu.
Three of the trucks are meant for Erin Forest plantation in Nyanga and two for Gwendingwe Estates in Chimanimani.
Allied Timbers has been reeling under low capacity utilisation over the years owing to desolate machinery, low replanting rate and uncontrolled fires mainly caused by illegal settlers.
The timber plantation area in the country has been declining every year from about 120 000 hectares in the early years to just under 70 000 hectares in 2018, a Cabinet minister has said.
Speaking during the commissioning ceremony of new Allied Timbers machinery, Minister Ndlovu bemoaned the declining timber plantation area.
“My ministry is well aware that the timber industry is at present not in its best state resulting from years of economic challenges that affected forestry rehabilitation programmes, recapitalisation and market competitiveness.
“The ministry is also informed that timber plantation area has been declining every year, from about 120 000 hectares in the early years of this decade to just under 70 000 hectares in 2018,” he said.
Minister Ndlovu said the major reasons for the decline include low replantating rate, forest fires and illegal activities in the forest.
The minister pointed out that the recent natural disaster, Cyclone Idai, ravaged timber planatations, destroying standing stock , nurseries and infrastructure.
To address these challenges and position the country as a leading timber producer in Africa, Minister Ndlovu said Government is committed to creating an enabling environment for increased production.
Currently, the country consumes about 150 000 cubic metres of timber per year and this demand is estimated to increase as the country moves closer to achieving Vision 2030.