Facilitating the development of inclusive, competitive and resilient business models in wood product markets, and supporting a conducive enabling environment through engagement with public and private actors.
Previous underinvestment in government plantations has led to a decline in wood supply from conventional sources such as Sao Hill, leading to a growing role for the private sector in Tanzanian forestry. However, as large companies struggle to secure land for industrial-scale plantations, attention has increasingly turned to small-scale tree growers, pushing up prices for small woodlot produce, and leading to a boom in small-scale planting in the mid-2000s. As such, large volumes of relatively low-quality, small-diameter wood from small, disparate woodlots – and often inexperienced farmers – is now approaching the market.
However, wood product markets and government policy have not yet adjusted to these trends. On the markets side, processors who have historically relied upon relatively large-diameter logs from government forests are struggling to maintain competitiveness, whilst investors who are able to absorb and add value to small woodlot produce are still relatively scarce. On the policy side, there is low recognition and few initiatives to support the nascent small-scale forest industry.
The Trust is working to improve short-term income generating gains to small farmers at harvest, improved collaboration and better-informed decision making within wood product value chains, and sector insight towards longer-term policy and planning.
FDT’s strategy is built upon the understanding that small growers will reap the greatest benefits when they are well-integrated in competitive, resilient wood product markets, supported by a conducive enabling environment. To this end, FDT commissioned Unique forestry and land use GmbH to undertake a comprehensive study to assess the current and future projections in wood supply and demand, and the state of individual wood markets and value chains. The report highlights the scale of the opportunity in Tanzania, which is significant, before proposing a set of recommendations that market actors can pursue to support sector transformation. Such insights serve to:
a) Strengthen the basis of decision making by sector actors (both public and private);
b) Inform strategic decision making in other areas of the Trust’s work (i.e. estimating the nature of future market demand helps to inform species choice in the tree improvement programme); and
c) Identify opportunities for new FDT interventions seeking to strengthen market systems and the enabling environment.
FDT also works closely with the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, as well as a range of public forestry institutions in Tanzania, in order to collaboratively nurture a conducive enabling environment within which commercial forestry can flourish.
Specific current areas of focus include:
- Small grower marketing – Seeking ways to strengthen small grower engagement in wood product value chains, through, e.g., more efficient woodlot valuation, harvesting, coordination, aggregation and transportation. Seeking also to promote new technologies that better suited to extracting value from small woodlot produce. During 2017, the Trust undertook scoped various interventions, from which two are now in the phase of piloting: the provision of marketing services to growers to improve their negotiation position at harvest; and the demonstration and evaluation of improved processing technology for sawn timber.
- Industry coordination – Seeking value chain efficiencies through improved coordination of key actors, through, e.g., improved collaboration and communication between actors, improved spatial intelligence on raw material supply, improved regulation and standards, increased responsiveness to end-user needs, etc. During 2017, FDT engaged with TANESCO in their drive to address quality concerns in the wooden pole value chain, including the presentation of an issues paper.
- Policy and planning – Working with key ministries and public institutions to strengthen the enabling environment. In 2014, FDT provided input into the development of the new national forest policy, and in 2017 facilitated private sector actors to review and give their perspectives on the revised policy (available in English and Swahili).
- Remote sensing – FDT has undertaken remote sensing studies, resulting in the identification of a cost-effective tool for improved spatial forestry intelligence based upon satellite imagery. This map shows the distribution of pine and eucalyptus in the Southern Highlands, and provides an estimate of plantation coverage at 233,500-257,600 Ha in 2013.