Useful Papers

Wood & Wood Products

Consumerism, urbanisation and structural changes in economic activity increase the demand for wood products.  Trade patterns indicate that the market for wood products is a potentially attractive market for SADC’s farmers. SADC’s competitive advantage is access to land, labour and its climatic conditions. The region also has access to expertise in value-added activities: SAPPI and Mondi are large South African companies trading in wood products. Other developing countries also perceive this market to be valuable and are building supply-side capacity by forming public-private partnerships. Therefore SADC’s farmers’ access to physical factors of production, coupled with their ability to tap into intangible capital in the form of private companies’ marketing and distribution networks, is a significant advantage. 

Value chain

Small farmers typically supply a commodity product which by definition are price sensitive, and thus increasing profitability is a function of reducing per unit costs and increasing output. Therefore, for a farmer to compete successfully, his ability to capture supply-side efficiencies is important. These supply-side efficiencies can emanate from planting better strains and improving management practices throughout the value chain. 

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Market analysis

Globalisation has a ‘contradictory’ effect on markets’ development. On the one hand it spreads a common culture and thus generates a demand for ‘generic goods’. On the other, globalisation has given end-users greater choice regarding the goods they consume. This has created an environment where small deviations in a product’s quality have a significant impact. In this market a farmer needs to understand overall market trends and intertwine this knowledge with country- / product-specific knowledge. 

For general market information:

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Information about the African market:

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Tariff and non-tariff barriers

Countries use tariffs and non-tariffs barriers to protect domestic farmers from imported goods. Tariffs increase the price of imported goods compared to domestic goods, thereby giving domestic producers a relative price advantage. Non-tariff barriers usually take the form of strict sanitary and phytosanitary measures or adherence to certification measures, such as 1SO 9000 standards. Non-tariff barriers increase a producer’s costs throughout the supply chain due to the complexity of the processes that he/she must adhere to and the bureaucratic cost of ensuring that procedures are documented. As a result, non-tariff barriers’ potential to hinder an exporter’s ability to sell products into foreign markets is greater than tariff barriers

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Way forward

For SADC’s small-scale farmers to participate in the global market, the industry’s supply-side bottlenecks should be addressed and the supply chain should be re-engineered to create access points, for example so that small framers to tap into the region’s paper manufacturing giants. When the supply chain is revisited it will give participants a chance to explore a range of alternative business opportunities. For example, selling wood products should not be confined to exporting a physical product but could also encompass exporting an intangible one, namely carbon credits. 

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Information about forming business partnerships:

Information about building a research cluster:

Information about carbon trading:

Information about job creation:


United Nations Economic Committee for Europe: Forestry

FAO Forestry

International Tropical Timber Association

Centre for International Forestry Research