Rundu — Farmers who have harvested timber with permits from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry say while they are grateful that the government has lifted the timber transportation moratorium, they are unhappy with the conditions attached to permits to deal in timber.
One of the conditions is that no unprocessed timber would be exported from Namibia.
Farmers however want this specific condition to be relaxed as no local buyers are available for their timber.
Some farmers in Kavango East Region say this condition has made their lives diffucult as they are unable to sell locally.
They now fear that their stockpiles of timber would lose value as they have been on their farms for too long.
"If government is saying we are only permitted to transport our timber to timber factories within the country then we are still going to have a problem," said Monde Esau, a farmer in Kavango East.
"We don't have [local] clients who can buy these logs, there is no market or wood factories that can buy these quantities locally for processing."
He continued: "What the government could have done was allow us to sell our already cut logs and allow us to export and then restrict future harvesting because as we stand now, there are tons of wood lying around farms and it will rot due to no local market."
"If government avails the market, things would be different but as of now our market is outside the country. Our logs are at the port at Walvis Bay but cannot be exported due to these conditions and we have sold our timber to the Chinese but cannot get all our payments because they are unable to take these logs out of the country."
"The teams that are being sent to inspect our farms are going to have it tough because the logs are scattered and the people who cut it and that can show them around, have left our farms since the moratorium came into effect in April and these farms are big, some are 2 500 hectares and some are 5 000 hectares. This exercise will take time and the more time it takes the more our logs lose value."
"Where are the factories? Our government should look into the conditions. We don't know where to take these logs, some farmers have been paid by the Chinese buyers and their logs were set to leave the country but now there is a restriction, now where will they find money to pay back as they have used the money?" said Petrus Kahare Muronga, a farmer in Kavango West.
"Today we came to inform the farmers that we will be sending officials for verification - we will be sending six teams, four people in a team which will include forestry officials and environment officials, and law enforcement officers will also be on board," said John Niipale, the chief forester for the north eastern regions, who held a meeting with farmers today.