Charcoal is important for most rural homesteads which are out of the reach of electricity and even for the urban poor or even those grappling with economic shortages. It provides an affordable source of fuel. This creates a dilemma because forests are prime in curbing negative climate change. Charcoal is also useful in making cosmetic products, for teeth hygiene and as a drug. Therefore it cannot be banished but rather its value chain must be strengthened by enforcing stakeholders in its business cycle to regenerate its source – which is trees. Eco-friendly fast growing tree varieties ought to be engaged in this cycle.
The availability of trees as a constant crop, that generates the charcoal product is vital to the charcoal business. And therefore, rather than ban charcoal, tree planting must be augmented with law enforcement and the introduction of eco-friendly fast growing tree varieties specifically for this purpose. These can be grown at community level as well to prevent further encroachment into forests.