Windhoek-Adding value to invader bush species in the country has enormous potential for the industrialisation drive and has the ability to tremendously increase employment. This was the message of Dr Michael Humavindu, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development (MITSMED), during the opening of a workshop yesterday titled ‘Promoting sustainable bush-processing value chains in Namibia’.
The workshop was hosted by the MITSMED in conjunction with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
“The moment we can demonstrate adding value to encroaching bush successfully then we can expand it to other countries in the region. We can look at various options like selling the technology to our neighbouring countries and this initiative ties in directly with the Southern African Development Community’s industrialisation roadmap. While invader bush is seen as a huge problem it is actually a huge opportunity,” Humavindu told New Era on the sidelines of the workshop.
Bush encroachment is described as a form of land degradation that occurs around the world but more frequently in arid and semi-arid rangelands. The phenomenon is the occurrence of high densities of wood species, particularly the acacia bush and sickle bush, that grow at the expense of grass and herbs, thereby reducing the carrying capacity for livestock and hampering related agricultural activities.
Bush encroachment remains a major agricultural challenge for Namibia, covering about 45 million hectares of the country’s savannas or around a third of the land area, significantly reducing livestock productivity. It is estimated that Namibia’s bush encroachment still increases at 3.1 percent per year or around 1.5 million hectares per annum.
In this vein, a project called ‘Promoting Sustainable Bush-Processing Value Chains in Namibia’ was launched in 2017 by MITSMED, UNIDO and the Finnish government. The project aims at the sustainable utilisation of invasive bush for the production of final goods with a higher value added, jobs and export potential. The project also aims at strengthening vital sources of food and income through stimulating the utilisation of invasive bush species in the animal feed, charcoal and food industry as well as in the energy production sectors.