National demand for sawnwood in Cameroon. A barrier to or an opportunity for promoting the use of timber resources of legal origin?

Lescuyer Guillaume, Tsanga Raphael, Essiane Mendoula Edouard, Ahanda Barthélémy Xavier Embolo, Ouedraogo Hadji Adama, Fung Obed, Dubiez Emilien, Bigombe Logo Patrice. 2017. National demand for sawnwood in Cameroon. A barrier to or an opportunity for promoting the use of timber resources of legal origin?. Bogor : FAO-CIFOR, 57 p. ISBN 978-92-109533-1

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Abstract : Domestic timber consumption in Central Africa, which is predominantly fed with sawnwood of informal origin, is important both economically and socially. No one has yet addressed the information needed in order to develop the conditions that will improve the legality of timber trade and practices. This report aims to fill that gap by reviewing the demand and supply of different wood products in the Cameroonian domestic market (Yaoundé and Douala) in order to identify the opportunities that would promote the consumption of sawnwood and furniture of legal origin, which would strengthen the sustainable management of timber resources and encourage long-term, green economic growth. Private and public demands for timber are mainly for three uses: construction material for the building and public works (BPW) sector, for frames and for furniture. These demands are expressed at four marketing levels: 1. The urban markets: Approximately 830,000 m3 of sawnwood are sold per year, mainly in the form of planks, formworks, laths and rafters. This sector's characteristics have undergone little change over the last decade, with identical products, prices and species each year. The average price of 1 m3 charged in the urban markets for all sawnwood categories combined is about XAF 80,000. Products that are declared to be of legal origin (as they come from industrial mills) represent between 12 and 18% of the volume sold. However, between 15 and 34% of customers reported that they would purchase legal timber if their income increased by between 20 and 100% in the next 5 years. In addition, half of the buyers interviewed stated that they would pay 10% more in order to acquire timber from legal origins. This estimate depends on the occupation of the buyer, the product bought and the timber species of the product. Finally, the interviewed buyers stated that they could bear a 45% increase in current sawnwood prices before substituting them with alternative products. So, demand would exist even if the supply price of timber increased in urban markets, which would at least improve the legality and the quality of certain types of sawnwood in the short and medium term. 2. The joinery workshops: A total of 515 interviewed workshops produce about 130,000 items of furniture per year, for a total volume of 22,000 m3 of timber after fourth transformation and a turnover of more than XAF 8 billion. Cabinets, beds and doors are the best-selling products, in terms of value and volume. Urban consumers are interested in getting the best prices for wooden furniture. There is a lack of interest in sourcing sawnwood of legal and sustainable origin; only 19 joinery workshops met a demand for wood of legal origin in 2015 for a total sale of just 61 items of furniture. 3. The furniture shops: From January to October 2015, 166 shops surveyed sold 22,282 items of furniture, corresponding to a sawn volume of 5788 m3 and a turnover of XAF 3.33 billion. Beds were the main piece of furniture sold by these shops. The legality of the material used for the manufacturing of furniture sold in the shops is an extremely rare concern for buyers in Yaoundé and Douala. Since their creation, only 10% of the sampled shops have reported any demand for wood from legal sources. During the survey period, the shops sold only 78 items of furniture to buyers who were concerned about the legality of the raw material. 4. Public contracts: National and international public agencies have almost not developed a strategy towards promoting the legal origin of the timber used in public contracts. Yet between July 2015 and June 2016, 1029 calls to tender including timber works were published in the Journal of Public Contracts of Cameroon, for 2134 sites for construction or renovation of public infrastructure. Classrooms make up the majority of this category of tenders. This public demand for sawnwood is close to 13,000 m3 per year, making the Government of Cameroon the main buyer of sawnwood and furniture in the domestic market. To meet these different demands, there are four supposedly legal sources of sawnwood and furniture in the Cameroonian domestic markets: 1. Community forests (CF): after the provisions of the Forest Act of 1994, the CF were successful in the early 2000s but ultimately had a low impact viii on legal production of sawnwood, due to the many procedures imposed by the government. On the basis of the annual permits granted by the government and under the assumption of a legal production of 60 m3/year/CF, the total production of the CF has never reached 10,000 m3 of timber per year. The cost price of 1 m3 of sawnwood charged by a CF and sold in the market is at least XAF 150,000. 2. The timber exploitation permit (PEBO) allows for the exploitation of about 160 m3 of sawnwood each. After having been suspended for nearly a decade, the ministry in charge of forests launched two calls to tender in 2012 for 159 PEBOs, out of which only 51 were successful, indicating a maximum volume of 8000 m3 of potentially exploitable timber. Implementing the PEBO procedures is expensive as the cost price of 1 m3 of timber is estimated at XAF 280,000. This explains why many PEBO holders were not engaged in production, at least for the domestic market. 3. Industries: Tracking the sales of sawnwood in the urban markets of Yaoundé and Douala in 2009–10 showed that approximately 145,000 m3 of timber came from industrial sawmills. Yet, very few industrial mills stated that they were active on the domestic market. Their sales in this market remain focused on white wood of nonexportable quality. However, even for these lowquality products, company prices in the urban markets are 30 to 50% higher than current sawnwood prices. There is also a large quantity of scrap from industrial sawmills, for which there is no monitoring on the part of these companies. 4. Wooden furniture imports have doubled since 2007, reaching a turnover of XAF 5.3 billion in 2015, which corresponds to 10,000 m3. This trend indicates an inability of the domestic producers to meet new demands, due to a lack of equipment and technical and commercial training. There are two major obstacles to the emergence of a domestic market of legally sawnwood in Cameroon. Buyers' acceptance to purchase sawnwood at higher prices due to the legalization of the sector will not be sufficient to cover the current cost prices of legally sawnwood, whether they come from the CF, the PEBO or industries. The maximum production of sawnwood of legal origin today can only meet the needs of a few consumers. The legalization of the national market of timber in Cameroon therefore faces a double constraint of price and volume. Reducing the cost of production of legal sawnwood for the domestic market is the approach most often mentioned and tested to some extent. This supplyside support policy is difficult to implement for many reasons linked to the cost of implementation of the PEBO, bad governance, which spoils CF or the lack of interest by the timber industries in this market that is considered to be less profitable. However, measures have been considered and tested by the government to force companies into increasingly supplying urban markets, particularly from their allotted concessions. A complementary approach of supporting private and public demands of sawnwood of legal origin could be promoted. Some consumers are already willing to pay more to acquire legal products, including products and species that are currently identified. Increasing the income of the middle class will only reinforce this trend in the medium term. Finally, the Cameroonian government is promoting the idea of requiring the supply of legal timber in all public markets that would have a significant impact not only on the general public, but also on the global economy. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Forêt, forêt tropicale, Production forestière, Bois débité, Consommation intérieure, Marché, Prix, Pratique illégale, Meuble, Économie forestière, Bois, Législation de l'environnement, Forêt de production, Communauté rurale, Gouvernance, Politique forestière

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Cameroun

Mots-clés libres : Foresterie communautaire

Classification Agris : K10 - Forestry production
E16 - Production economics
E72 - Domestic trade
E73 - Consumer economics

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 2 (2014-2018) - Valorisation de la biomasse

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Lescuyer Guillaume, CIRAD-ES-UPR BSef (IDN) ORCID: 0000-0003-0952-8656
  • Tsanga Raphael, CIFOR (IDN)
  • Essiane Mendoula Edouard, CIFOR (BFA)
  • Ahanda Barthélémy Xavier Embolo, Université de Yaoundé 2 (CMR)
  • Ouedraogo Hadji Adama, Université de Yaoundé 2 (CMR)
  • Fung Obed, Université de Yaoundé 2 (CMR)
  • Dubiez Emilien, CIRAD-ES-UPR Forêts et sociétés (FRA)
  • Bigombe Logo Patrice

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