THERE is a need for all forest product factories in the country to meet the requisite international standard quality if they are to win any lucrative markets at home and abroad for their products.
Forest products include finished timber products and honey. These products must have excellent quality if they are to win any hearts. When opening the Forest Wood Industry Training Centre at Mafinga recently, the Deputy Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Japhet Hasunga, insisted on product quality.
The centre will equip wood factory workers with the best skills possible in a quest boost market options and sales for their products. Yes, with polished skills wood workers will be able to turn out the best products.
A similar situation will embrace producers of honey. Unfortunately, deep under the forest canopy, things are not rosy at all. It has come to light that illegal loggers are out of their lair again and are busy felling trees in conserved forests and shipping the contraband overseas making millions in illegal gains. The Fifth Phase Government has already caught up with some.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has called for the formation of an agency that will monitor closely the harvesting and selling of forest products countrywide. He wants all products to be sold in competitive bidding arrangements.
The upshot here is to ensure that the government earns its fair share of the revenue generated from the sales. This initiative stems from the stark reality that random harvesting of forest products has largely remained in greedy hands for too long.
Consequently, the state has moved in and slapped a complete ban on the practice. The envisaged forestry agency will maintain tight control of forest product sales and, indeed, ensure that government revenue collection increases.
The canker in this respect is the disgusting fact that while the nation’s forest reserves appear to be vanishing, not much revenue is credited to government accounts. Much of the money is siphoned off by dishonest government officials and their cronies.
The main culprits, who must be stopped in their tracks, are forestry officials in the central government as well as district councils. It is this lopsided arrangement that offers loopholes to greedy officials who are notorious for pocketing state revenue.
The new arrangement should involve traffic police officers whose detail will be to collect road toll and other charges from timber traders. In fact, it has come to light that most check-points are hide-outs for unscrupulous officials who generate personal money.
Indeed, Tanzania has a rich forest cover. And all these forests are, certainly, money spinners. Nearly all regions have natural forests that must be protected what come may. Yes, forest products must generate money for the state.