Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) CEO, Penny Akwenye, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) resident country director, Stevan Dobrilovic and Kunene governorJoshua Hoebeb, officially opened an oil distillation facility for mopane and commiphora resin at Opuwo last week.
The processing facility is locally owned by the Kunene Conservancy Indigenous
Natural Products (INP) Trust, which comprises of five commiphora producing conservancies; Puros, Orupembe, Marienfluss, Sanitatas and Okondjobo.
The small factory and an associated visitor centre were largely funded by MCA-N through the United States government.
With reference to the adage; ‘Don’t drop the stick before the snake is dead’, Hoebeb said“this is an economic significance of INP for the Himba communities of Kunene Region. These people are our traditional plant experts”.
Commiphora is a traditional Himba perfume plant, also known as ‘Namibian myrrh’. While the conservancies benefit directly through the proceeds, 400 harvesters benefit indirectly through the sale of their collected raw material and four new full-time jobs have been created to date, much to the delight of Akwenye.
“I am convinced the facilities will contribute not only to increased sales but also awareness about these important products.”
Construction, furniture, fittings and marketing of the visitor centre have since
been made possible through a grant to the value of N$727 675 under MCA-N’s Conservancy Development Support Grant Fund and much of the factory equipment comes from its Primary Production Improvement Grant Fund worth N$353 000.
MCA-N senior manager, Ralph Hofelein, said the organisation implements development activities in the country’s education, agriculture and tourism sectors, which are all funded by the United States government through the MCC to the combined value of N$3b with the aim of reducing poverty through economic growth.