Women important in biomass industry

23 November 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

The potential of women to make positive contributions to the biomass sector is enormous; however, this is often underappreciated.

This according to the Namibia Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG), in partnership with the Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project, who announced the winners of the Women in Biomass Industry Awards 2020 recently.

Implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) within the German-Namibia development cooperation, in close collaboration with the environment ministry, the awards ceremony is the first of its kind, and aims to empower and celebrate women in the Namibian biomass industry. It raises awareness for the impactful and diverse opportunities within the industry.

Farmer Agnes Tjiramba from Omaheke Region as well as community activist Jenny Paulse and young professional Taimi Ndilimani, both from Jumbo Charcoal in Okahandja, were announced as the winners in different categories.

The ceremony comprised of three categories: Entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership; social and community engagement and the employee award.

Range of nominations

A total of 17 nominations were received and ranged from environmental awareness activities, community development, bush-feed research and poultry production, with charcoal processing being the prevalent activity.

The nominees came from seven regions: Omaheke, Khomas, Otjozondjupa, Omusati, Hardap, Oshikoto and Oshana.

“This has been an exciting project from the onset. We have managed to bring recognition to extraordinary women in the biomass sector; at the same time demonstrating how gender-inclusive the biomass sector is,” said N-BiG CEO, Progress Kashandula.

He said the Namibian biomass industry has almost doubled its employment from 6 000 to 11 000 within the past five years, and creates diversified opportunities for both men and women.

“Beyond this initiative, more than 200 women have already benefitted from our technical support in sustainable bush control and biomass utilisation.

“One of our objectives is to improve and modernise technology regarding harvesting as well as processing systems, which should avail more opportunities for women to be engaged within the entire value chain. Women can contribute at every stage of the biomass value chains.”

More needs to be done

Meanwhile, Benson Matali said more still needs to be done to ensure that both men and women are at the same level of economic empowerment.

“This will enable them to participate in high-value activities such as biomass, thereby contributing to the growth of our economy, reducing poverty and creating sustainable and decent jobs,” he said.

Pekeloye Kamenye, GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project senior technical advisor, said there is a need to amplify the involvement of women to tap into the endless opportunities in the biomass industry, moving away from charcoal to other innovative ideas in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

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