A Thatch Grass Logistics Centre which will provide a platform to local residents to trade in thatch grass is currently in the final stage of construction and once it opens for business in October the centre is expected to radically change the grass business for Kavango and Zambezi residents.
Hundreds of Kavango and Zambezi residents make a living from selling thatched grass.
The construction which commenced on February 2014 is being funded by the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) with the focus on manufacturing and skills transfer, as well as in support of NDC’s Thatch Grass Development Strategy.
According to NDC regional manager for Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi regions Egidius Nambara, the construction phase provided 44 jobs at the site and upon completion the centre will support thatch manufacturers in the three north-eastern regions of Zambezi, Kavango West and Kavango East.
“We’re currently going around the region to create awareness of the thatch grass project. We are meeting local people who are harvesting the grass, as well as identifying challenges they are facing and perhaps make recommendations for them ,” said NDC marketing officer Delinda Hanes.
Local small-scale harvesters will be able to sell their untreated thatch and other thatch-related materials directly to the centre for processing by the operator, unlike the current situation where the harvesters are forced by buyers to sell at cheaper unregulated prices.
“The centre will initially have a private operator, who will be going to the various harvesters to buy untreated grass and bring it to the centre where he will then do the final cleaning and treatment before it leaves the region. This is also to limit the Foot and Mouth Disease from being transmitted from one region to another,” Nambara further explained.
The centre will also give small-scale thatchers (people who construct thatch roofing) and harvesters training in sustainable harvesting and thatching methods. “The training might be for free, just to support the local communities to create self-employment,” Nambara added.