Turning bush into opportunity

A group of 36 trainees attended the first pilot training of trainers in topics such as bush control and biomass utilisation in Okahandja from 22 to 26 July.

28 August 2019 | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTER

Bush encroachment of farmland in Namibia is a growing reality with an adverse impact on land productivity and grazing capacity.

According to a statement by the De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) efforts to reclaim land through bush-clearing activities using a variety of chemical, mechanical and biological methods are increasing.

“Where livestock farmers in general see bush encroachment as a stumbling block to profitable livestock production, an ever-increasing portion of them also see the sustainable harvesting of bush and bush products as a complementary income generation opportunity, putting Namibia at the dawn of a very dynamic and potentially lucrative bush utilisation industry,” says DAS.

Being an infant industry usually leaves a lot of room for malpractices that can negatively affect the natural environment and reduce the quality of products derived from bushes.

The statement says that one way to address this is to build the necessary capacity amongst the role players in the industry to not only apply sustainable bush control and harvesting practices, but also to ensure that bush utilisation is done in such a way that high quality bush products are produced for maximum profit over the long term.

With a mission to develop structured capacity development programmes empowering critical resource people such as trainers, farmers, workers, contractors and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to effectively implement sustainable bush control and biomass utilisation, DAS kicked off its first pilot capacity development project called Training of Trainers.

A group of 36 trainees, consisting of public and private extension officials, new university graduates and young professionals, attended the first pilot training of trainers in topics such as bush control and biomass utilisation in Okahandja from 22 to 26 July.

Facilitated by Agriconsult, the training focused on theoretical and practical aspects of bush encroachment, bush control, bush biomass utilisation, financing and certification of SMEs in the bush control and biomass sector.

A second round of the course took place from 12 to 16 August. Thereafter, trainees will be mentored over the next months to get hands-on practical experience and become trainers.

“The Training of Trainers course was an insightful opportunity for me. I appreciated that the content was detailed enough, and I now understand the processes through which value is added to biomass and why things are done the way they are done

“As a result of the training, I am even more confident to engage and advise farmers as well as potential entrepreneurs on the endless opportunities offered by the biomass sector,” says Klaudia Amutenya.

Bush biomass utilisation for charcoal or animal feed, for example, is a growing opportunity for the Namibian biomass industry. However, there is a lack of qualified adequate professionals. This is the gap the DAS wants to address.

“We are rolling out capacity development programmes for farmers, workers, contractors and SMEs,” says Progress Kashandula, general manager of DAS.

“We are hoping this will lead to a large pool of qualified trainers and workers.”

In addition, DAS is in the process of drafting three career qualifications in the format of national vocational certificates (NVCs) in line with the guidelines and frameworks of the Namibia Training Authority (NTA).

“We want people to be able to qualify in bush control, bush utilisation as well as SME management in the sector as this will contribute to better understanding and sustainable utilisation of available biomass resources. Our aim is to register these qualifications with the Namibia Training Authority,” Kashandula explains.

DAS serves as a national information platform and capacity development hub in the emerging bush biomass industry. It addresses knowledge and information needs of farmers interested in bush control on their farmland and connects them with operators of and investors in bush biomass processing machines and plants.

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