Raiply Malawi Limited Chikangawa Plantation Manager , Nathaniel Nthala has warned that economic gains government is benefiting from the company will drastically diminish if plunder of forests resources continues to be rendered a blind eye.
Nthala: Chikangawa forest
Nthala made the warning Tuesday during a ceremony his company was donating desks to Kasangazi Primary School in the area of Chief KampingoSibande in Mzimba District.
Raiply Malawi Limited is running Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory which is leading producer of high quality and export value wood products which helps in boosting the much needed forex for the country.
Nthala lamented that the EPZ factory's operations are threatened by massive forest plunder by ill intentioned members of the community who set devastating bush fires which cause extensive damage to trees which are main raw materials for the company factory.
The Plantation Manager said this year alone, Raiply has lost 1,116 hectares of trees to bush fires which he said was a major set back to operation of the factory.
"If the destruction of trees can not be urgently addressed, it will have serious reparation on the factory production which will affect the country's economic growth," said Nthala
Besides helping to boost the country's forex, Nthala said the company is also remitting huge sum of money to the government in form of taxes in various forms, in addition to creating jobs for most community members around the plantation which also face threat under forest plunder.
"Besides the company raking in much needed forex, it again significantly contributes towards economic growth through tax remittances. It has also managed to create over 2,000 jobs, most of them picked up by citizens within the surroundings of the plantation," explained Nthala.
The Manager, however, parried away claims that those setting the forest ablaze are those who were laid off and the practice was the wrath of their frustration.
He said according to investigation, most fire outbreaks are deliberately caused by people who are not patriotic and without integrity and responsibility at all.
"Another group of people in habit of setting the forest on fire are poachers, in attempt to dive the game to a clear area so they can take an easy target at them," he added.
Besides bush fires as a major destruction to the forest, unknown people are also uprooting young trees in newly planted areas, for reasons Raiply authorities are ignorant about.
Said Nthala, " All trees set on fire are useless which becomes a big loss to the company, going by the resources required and longer period it takes to cultivate them."
Member of Parliament for Mzimba East Constituency, Wezzie Gondwe, on behalf of her constituents, apologized to Raiply for the destruction of the plantation by people she described as misguided.
She, however, described Raiply as true partner in development for people of Mzimba East.
She observed that it was rare for a company like Raiply to continue meeting its social corporate obligation of implementing various types of development in an area whose residents want to bring the company down though plundering of its resources.
Gondwe outlined a catalogue of social amenities provided by the company, ranging from upgrading of feeder roads, upgrading of football pitches in schools to provision of furniture in needy schools, saying it was no mean contribution towards promotion of the wellbeing of the people residing next to the concession area.
She said desk donation has come at the right time when girl learners were facing a challenge to learn while sitting on the floor.
"Absence of furniture in schools was major cause of school dropouts among girl learners who feel demeaned to sit on bare floor in front of male teachers," said Gondwe.
In his remarks, Chief KampingoSibande took a swipe at people who destroy the plantation which the community benefits from in different ways for a living.
The Chief then asked traditional leaders adjacent to the forest to bang heads and scout out lasting solutions to the vice.
Some of wood products processed by EPZ are plywoods, block boards, laminated timber, doors, flush boards,treated power transmission poles, kiln dried and treated timber among other precious wood products, which enjoy market monopoly outside the country.
The concession signing agreement between government and Raiply Malawi Limited was done in 2002, which gave mandate to the company 'sforest operations department to control, manage and protect the concession area in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
Since it assumed operations, one of the major challenges has been illegal timber harvest.