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Sustainable processing of wood in Uganda and the Chinese market: opportunities and challenges


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This presentation by Harold Turinawe, of Merit Sawmillers Contractors Ltd and Elvis Mulimba of E & P Investments Ltd, provides the perspective on sustainable timber processing from two Ugandan businesses.

It gives an overview of the opportunities and challenges to sustainability of wood value addition and Chinese market competitiveness through quality and regulation for hard woods.

The presentation was made at the fourth international learning event of the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, held in Pemba, Mozambique, from 23-25 October 2017.

The platform event focused on finding ways for Chinese businesses in Africa, and African businesses linked to China, to generate strong benefits for local economies in Africa while looking after forest resources for future generations.

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Sustainable processing of wood in Uganda and the Chinese market: opportunities and challenges

  1. 1. HAROLD TURINAWE Merit Sawmillers and Contractors Ltd ELVIS MULIMBA E & P Investments Ltd China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform,  23-25 October 2017 Pemba, Mozambique 1
  2. 2. 1. Wood Value Addition in Uganda: Some opportunities and challenges to sustainability 2. Chinese Market competitiveness in Uganda: Quality and regulation for hard woods 2
  3. 3.  Natural forests - Source: state of forestry 2016 • 567,000 ha largely under conservation • Threatened by illegal harvesting and pressure from Agriculture  Planted forests - Source: SPGS 2016 • 75,000 ha by private sector and NFA (mainly Eucalypts, Pines and teak • Different ages, Annual planting at 7,000ha • Thinning stage • Projected yield 3,000,000m3 by 2030 • Current Processing capacity is at 30,000m3  Most of the exported hard wood timber is from private land/community forests 3
  4. 4.  Fuelwood - charcoal industry  Timber industry • Primary wood processing • Furniture industry • Timber engineered products  Utility poles  Veneer/boards/plywood industry  Medium Density Fibre (MDF) board industry  Pulp & paper Industry - tissues 4
  5. 5. 80% sawn lumber still here = Substandard/illegal 5
  6. 6. • Unsustainable way of processing timber • Mainly used for 2nd and 3rd thinnings. • Over 40 mills owned mainly by forest owners and specialised wood processors • Low recovery rate - less than 30% • Poor finishing (smoothness of the boards) 6
  7. 7. PLYWOOD FACILITIES Majority small scale production Predominated by Chinese eg TIANG TANG Using improved technology – spindle lathe 6 facilities – 1 big consuming about 300cbm of wood dialy. Limited access to facilities – learning or invest in similar technologies. 7
  8. 8. MDF facilities •Only 1 big plant in country owned by private company. •Mainly targeting 1st and 2nd thinnings of Pines and Eucalyptus •Low prices per ton: 1 ton: 18 - 20USD (UGX 65,000 - 75,000) NILE PLY (chinese machinery) 8
  9. 9. • 7 plants owned by several companies • Treat Eucalyptus poles for utility purposes. • Using Creosote or CCA (Chrome Copper Arsenate) wood preservative. • Target domestic and regional markets (South sudan, Rwanda and Kenya) 9
  10. 10. • Major source of Fuelwood esp. in urban centers (88% of population use Biomass energy for H/H energy needs) • Not sustainable - limited to natural forests not plantations • Inappropriate production technologies • Poor packaging • Further value addition needed • Market not familiar with briquettes 10
  11. 11. 11 • Observed: limited Skills and good practices • Hope: our boys are trainable • Action: we need to think about investment in partnerships for technology and training
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  13. 13. Investment in technology for value addition GOOD POLICY ENVIRONMENT Low price margins Low quality Low revenue to government Unsustainable Good price margins Good quality Good revenue to government Skilled jobs created sustainable 13
  14. 14. Feedbac k Current bottlenecks Solution/proposals ■ Good quality but hard to get • Available species are restricted for trade (reserved species) • Resource on private/community lands • Quantities unknown • Need to implement Schedule 9 of NFTPR (2016) - licences for reserved trees • Resource based controls • Mapping of resources and produce community wood release plans looking to:- • Extraction component and Value addition • Re-afforestation/ Eco-restoration ■ Corruption • Corruption • Regulation to facilitate trade not stifle trade (it should never be easier for a trader to pay a bribe or do legit) ■ Investment minimal (processin g and drying hardwoods ) • Limited Information on technology and skills • Sector has been left for small players Need for partnerships in processing not only Ugandan Timber •Uganda can be a hub for processing timber from Eastern DRC for Re- export •Need to expand products matrix beyond logs ■ Documenta tion for • Wood need is RESERVED/PROTECTED • Need to implement Schedule 9 of NFTPR (2016)- “Licences for14
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  16. 16.  Dilemma of the small holder - planted forests owned by many growers  Plantations not mapped – no information on volumes and yield projections  Most plantations are scattered across the country  illegal timber on the market and associated consequences (chain sawn)  Inappropriate machinery and technologies – low recovery rate (less than 30%)  Poor state of the feeder roads, high fee on road toll stations; land locked  Less exposure to external market opportunities – no aggressive marketers  Inadequate enforcement of the timber and forest products standards  Low prices for raw materials for MDF and plywood factories. 16
  17. 17.  Prime & large plantation timber resource compared to surrounding countries  Minimal risk from the effects of disease on timber  Minimal risk from the effects of high heat intensity fires on timber  Better organization in Uganda forestry sector – UTGA  No serious processing factories - Mobile sawmills  Booming domestic construction industry  Mismatch of the processing facilities with the resource base available  Build on efforts by WWF/EU/FLEGT towards production and use of legal timber 17
  18. 18. • SUSTAINABLE Isaiah 55:12: You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into songs before you and All the trees of the field will clap their hands!!! • UNSUSTAINABLE Isaiah 14:8 : Even the trees of the forest , the junipers and cedars of Lebanon gloat over you and say “NOW that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us!!!!!! 18
  19. 19. THANK YOU 19