Charcoal Value Chain as a Complimentary Livelihood Activity for Pastoralists in the Rangelands

Published on February, 2022

International Grassland Congress


Teyie, S., Wasonga, O. V., Bergmann, C., & Petersen, M


Global charcoal production has more than tripled over the past 50 years from 17.3 million tons in 1964 to 53.1 million tons in 2014. 61% of the present global charcoal production occurs in Africa, mostly to satisfy demand for cooking fuel from urban and peri-urban households. Despite the adverse environmental impacts associated with charcoal production, a significant global population relies on it for energy needs, while many producers depend on it as a livelihood source. Whereas this calls for efforts to promote sustainable charcoal production practices, this has to be informed by in-depth understanding of the charcoal value chain to guide interventions aimed at making it a sustainable economic activity. This study used household interviews, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions to gather data on the practices, actors, prices, and quantities of charcoal traded at different nodes of the value chain in Pokot Central, Kenya. The results revealed over 13 categories of actors who were directly and indirectly involved in the charcoal production and trade. These included tree owners, producers, bulking agents, transporters, brokers, retailers, wholesalers, and law enforcers (police and Kenya Forest Service guards). The findings showed that the producers mainly used traditional kilns. Charcoal trade was mainly dominated by middle traders who determined prices along the value chain, and charcoal prices varied widely from US$ 4 per 100kg of charcoal at point of production to US$ 20 per 1 kg in urban centres. The higher prices at the urban centres were partly attributed to extra marketing costs associated with illegal fees paid to the law enforcers at road blocks during transportation. These findings point at the need to improve the production efficiency by use of improved kilns, and formalize charcoal trade to ensure standardization of prices and minimize exploitation of producers by brokers as well as corrupt law enforcers.