By Ntombi Mhlongo
As part of a plan to double its capacity output, the Shiselweni Forestry Company (SFC) has set a budget of over E10 million to upgrade the Peak Timber and Peak Forest Products (PFP) firms whose assets it acquired early last year. The main upgrade will include rebuilding the Rocklands Sawmill, a mining timber mill which mainly produces underground supports for the South African mining industry with small mining timber, turned poles and pencil props. The company’s Managing Director, Pieter Keeve said the plan is to kickstart the upgrading exercise in the next months.
The MD also disclosed that management is desirous to have Peak Timbers invest more in agriculture.
Shiselweni Forestry Company’s Public Relations Manager Sylvia Kunene said what Peak Timbers will do will be the same as what is currently being done at SFC in Nhlangano.
“At SFC in Nhlangano, we are involved in agroforestry where we do cattle (beef) and maize production. That is what we want to do at the Peak Timbers and this is currently at the planning stage,” she said. She mentioned that for now, their aim is to ensure job security for the current employees.
An expansion for such a company is positive for the country as commercial forestry and related timber processing industries hugely contribute to the development of the country’s economy, contributing approximately 12 per cent to the GDP and about 14 per cent of total exports over the past 13 years.
Peak Timber is involved in planting, harvesting, processing and selling timber and timber-related products while Peak Forest Products is involved in sawmilling operations.
Both firms have their principal place of business here in Eswatini.
From their plantations, they supply untreated transmission poles, untreated building and fencing poles, untreated mining timber logs (not sawn), pulp logs and woodchips to customers in SA.
Kunene went on to highlight that the company was motivated by the fact that the timber business is currently witnessing an improvement when looking into the demand in terms of exports.
“The wood chips export demand is currently (last quarter of 2022) higher than supply, however, it can change overnight. We hope that the status will be the same even in 2023. The plan is to supply the maximum that we can,” she said.
In terms of background, the SFC is a forestry company located in Eswatini and it has wattle, eucalyptus, and pine. The company is wholly owned by TWK Investments, a company incorporated in South Africa.
TWK Investments is, in turn, controlled by TWK Agriculture Holdings, which focuses on supplying agricultural and related services.