By Confidente Reporter
AGRIBANK has signed a one-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project, to support bush control and utilisation initiatives.
The MoU covers cooperation areas, such as product development, loan risk assessment, information sharing, capacity building, as well as monitoring and evaluation.
The MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project was established through a bilateral cooperation between the German and Namibian governments, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to develop, improve and implement strategies on sustainable bush control.
The project aims at creating a national framework for bush control, which comprises of three inter-related objectives, which are creating value-addition opportunities for the biomass resource, supporting farmers, wood harvesting and processing industries, through the establishment of a De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS).
It also aims to create an enabling environment, in general, to establish an environmentally friendly and sustainable biomass industry.
The DAS is a national information platform and focal point for questions relating to bush encroachment, bush control and value-addition. By virtue of its responsibilities, the DAS will be the main co-operator in the implementation of this agreement.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, noted that the MoU demonstrates the bank’s resolve to play a meaningful role in the socio-economic transformation and development of Namibia.
“We continuously strive to innovate ways and means to ensure that our products and services become more accessible to all Namibians, in order to contribute to the development of agriculture in this country. Bush encroachment has proven to be a problem in many parts of the country, and we trust that through this agreement, more farmers and entrepreneurs will have access to financing and advisory services, to turn the challenge of bush encroachment into value-addition opportunities,” Nghikembua stated.
GIZ Project Team Leader, Frank Gschwender, emphasised that there is great potential for a diversified industry, based on Namibian encroacher bush.
“The scope of bush encroachment is huge, estimated at more than 30 million hectares of land, amounting to a total of 200 to 300 million tons of biomass, providing Namibia with a sheer unlimited resource, which is in high demand globally. The knowledge of the opportunities created through biomass utilisation is crucial for the industry to flourish.
“As an emerging industry, the sector is faced with difficulties in accessing financial products, to upscale bush control and value chain initiatives. As such, this cooperation is seen as a roadmap to create financial models, suited to boost the bush-based biomass industry, thereby achieve large-scale rangeland restoration,” Gschwender added.
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