Sustainably managed forests are both a renewable energy source for communities and a carbon sink for the planet. Roughly only a quarter of Zambians have access to electricity, thus charcoal and wood fuel are essential for heating and cooking and will likely remain that way for years. But how that fuel is sourced can make a huge difference to our forests, communities, and planet.
As it stands, Rufunsa’s deforestation rate is approximately 11 times higher than the national average. Fortunately, this can change. Producing Eco-Charcoal is one way to protect forests on community lands, providing legal and sustainable fuel, and generating funds for Government and communities. By selectively harvesting mature trees while delicately cutting the remaining trees to allow for natural re-growth, forests can produce charcoal for energy and then regrow in a sustainable manner. This process can protect our ecosystems while generating income and boosting community livelihoods.
Eco-Charcoal was started by BCP Trust in 2013 in partnership with communities and the Forestry Department to produce a sustainable charcoal using improved kilns from a forest in Rufunsa District. To date, 424 hectares that are on an 18-year rotation are being managed by community “Charpreneurs” (charcoal entrepreneurs) and 31 households are involved as both producers of Eco-Charcoal and protectors of the forests that the charcoal is sourced from.
The project produces around 270 tons (270,000 kgs) per year and has generated $39,798.00 in payments to Charpreneurs, and $12,636.00 for the production and conveyance licenses to the Forestry Department between 2017 and 2019.
Eco-Charcoal sells two branded products:
- A wholesale volume bag of 90kgs
- A premium 5 kg bag found in supermarkets
It is hard to compete with the informal sector which doesn’t pay the same taxes. So we’re looking at ways to scale Eco-Charcoal by selling more kilos. However, using high-efficiency kilns which result in a 20% longer burn time than standard charcoal and the peace of mind knowing that your charcoal has been produced through sustainable methods by the caring hands of our “Charpreneuers,” buyers cannot go wrong with Eco-Charcoal!
“I have been participating in the Eco-Charcoal Project from 2013 to present. In the past, I wasn’t involved in any income generating activity, but after BCP brought the Eco-Charcoal project, I am able to pay school fees for my children and procuring farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. I have also used money from Eco-Charcoal to buy goats and other monthly essentials.” – Christina Miti – Charpreneur from Ndubulula Zone of Bunda Bunda Chiefdom
We are humbled by the support received from our long-standing partner, Forestry Department, as well as Musika, who have helped us along the way with funding to support our marketing efforts. Remember to look out for our bags of Eco-Charcoal at Melisa’s Supermarket, Mudpackers and Butcher Block. You can also purchase from us directly by sending a WhatsApp, text or call to +260 976 321 164.