WINDHOEK, Sept. – 14 Yesterday, Agribank signed a one year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MAWF/GIZ Support to a De-bushing Project.
The areas for cooperation include the development of financing products aimed at scaling-up projects in bush control and biomass utilisation as well as utilising the valuable knowledge and information of the De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) for risk assessment of bush control and bush-based value addition loans.
Moreover, DAS will provide referral service on Agribank’s loan products relevant to bush control and biomass utilisation as part of their outreach services. Reciprocally, Agribank will divulge information on loan products, specifically on the uptake of related loans and especially those associated with the focal area of the MoU.
The duo will coordinate capacity building activities for bush control loan holders and ensure that loan applicants undergo technical training in sustainable rangeland management, sustainable bush control and technologies used, biomass processing and utilisation, and the economics of bush control.
The Project was established through a bilateral cooperation between the German and Namibian governments in partnership with the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, in an attempt to develop, improve and implement strategies on sustainable bush control.
Creating a national framework for bush control is essential, while 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) is a realistic goal the project will aim to explore and realise.
Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, described the MOU as Agribank’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 highlighted the immense potential for a diversified industry with regards to the Namibian encroacher bush.
He said: “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 tonnes of biomass, providing Namibia with a sheer unlimited resource which is in high demand globally”. According to Gschwender, 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.” – NDN Staffer