Promoting sustainable bush-processing value chains in Namibia
In Namibia, the vast majority of the population is engaged in agricultural production as subsistence farmers, yet due to low productivity levels, only half of the country’s food demand can be met through these activities, while the other half is met through imports. Since Namibia is one of the driest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, concerns about issues related to water management and shortages, waste generation and pollution are growing. In addition, the agricultural activities are threatened by bush encroachment, a form of land degradation that can be found worldwide, but much more frequently in arid and semiarid rangelands. This phenomenon describes the occurrence of high densities of woody species—particularly the Acacia bush and Sicklebush—that grow at the expense of grass and herbs, thereby reducing the carrying capacity for livestock and hampering agricultural other agricultural activities. While bush encroachment constitutes an immense challenge, it also provides opportunities: by utilizing biomass, agricultural productivity becomes storable, thereby strengthening the drought resilience of farmers.
Objectives and Outcomes
The project aims at strengthening important sources of food and income through stimulating utilization of invasive bush species, e.g. in the animal feed, charcoal and food industry as well as in energy production sectors. The bush-processing value chains will be promoted in Namibia and in the region to contribute to the sustainable development of the Walvis Bay Corridor.
Direct outcomes of the project encompass the identification and testing of appropriate collection and manufacturing technology solutions, which can further be used in Namibia for the effective and productive consumption of bush resources. In addition, the design of a processing plant to convert Acacia and other raw materials into coal, chips, high-value livestock feed, coal, chips, Arabic gum and other selected products is envisaged.. The hard wood of the invasive bushes is ideal for charcoal production, which will provide alternatives sources of income for farmers and is being requested on national and international markets.
Hence, the sustainable utilization of invasive bushes like Acacia helps to mitigate bush encroachment as a form of land degradation. Through these measures, higher levels of agricultural productivity can be achieved, resulting in a better supply of food, increased resilience of farmers to droughts and reduced poverty, especially in rural communities.
Finally, invasive bush species such as Acacia will be consumed in a sustainable, effective and productive way, resulting in the production of final goods with a higher value added. The improved provision of arable land for agricultural activities would result in enhanced capacities for local job creation and income and exports generation.
The expected impacts are manifold with direct effects covering the following areas:
· Farming and productivity: The reduced land degradation paves the way for enhanced agricultural activities, which are the major source of food supply for the local population. By diminishing invasive bushes, higher volumes of water will be available for crops which will improve yield.
· Sustainable use of land: The land is used in a sustainable manner, meaning that the proposed utilization is in harmony with natural processes. No chemicals will be used to destroy the invasive bushes, but rather their utilization will follow the natural cycle of growth and harvest, taking into account the local climate and rainy seasons.
· Renewable natural fodder: During each rainy season, when acacia releases more leaves, bushes will be allowed to grow constantly, and will be cut afterwards to be stored as fodder for dry periods. Thus, the project promotes using the bushes as renewable fodder; hence cattle will receive locally grown, natural food.
· Job creation: Technological knowhow, hands-on skills and ready-to-use business models facilitated by the project will provide better opportunities for sustainable jobs creation among women and men in Namibia.
· Capacity building: Through various trainings, the project will enhance human and institutional capacity of related stakeholder institutions, associations, technicians, manufacturers, local farmers, skilled and semi-skilled workers, entrepreneurs and others on identification, feasibility, market intelligence, operation and maintenance of the agro-industrial machinery.