By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
Participants in the biomass value chain can now access tailormade funding from Agribank for their activities.
This week, the agricultural bank announced that it is diversifying its funding portfolio and is now including charcoal production.
According to the bank’s spokesperson Fillemon Nangonya, the biomass industry has the potential to improve the streamflow of underground water, refine rangeland productively, and create sustainable employment.
Moreover, it serves as an opportunity for farmers to diversify revenue streams and promote climate-smart agricultural practices.
Under the biomass value chain financing scheme, an applicant can be the farm owner or lease a farm from which they can harvest biomass to produce charcoal.
Or they can be a processor who buys charcoal to process and pack for the end market (retail shops/ restaurants or export/import companies for charcoal.
To ensure sustainable harvesting, both applicants must have a permit from the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry to harvest the biomass for charcoal.
The charcoal producers can access funding under the facility for working capital (including food rations for the employees), tractors/trailers, storage sheds, debushing equipment, workers housing, including clean water & sanitation.
As for charcoal processors, working capital financing, general equipment and vehicles, maintenance workshop, office to operate from, charcoal processing plant, warehouse and equipment is offered.
During 2021Q3, export earnings from forestry commodities were valued at N$383,6 million, and the highest contributor to the export earnings was wood charcoal (N$193,3 million).
Since the third quarter of 2020, charcoal export earnings have been above N$200 million quarterly before they have slowed down (N$193,3 million) during the third quarter of 2021.
Research by GIZ spearheaded BiomassUtilisation by Sustainable Harvest (BUSH) Project shows that the accumulated biomass resulting from bush thinning can be gainfully used, making it an economically viable resource for value addition opportunities.
They estimated that more than half of the country’s prime rangelands are affected by this bush encroaching shrubs/trees characterized by the excessive expansion of bush at the expense of other plant species, especially grasses.
This affects 30 to 45 million hectares, more than 30% of Namibia’s total landmass.
The most significant consequences of bush encroachment are reduced by carrying capacity of affected rangelands, groundwater recharge and biodiversity loss, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and desertification.
Over the past two decades, the Namibian government has implemented activities tailored to combat bush encroachment.
GIZ and NUST have been partnering upon research, technology and equipment that can be used in sustainable harvesting of biomass for different use.
GIZ with the Charcoal Association of Namibia has conducted several training sessions with teams from a local community and farmers where they were introduced to sustainable harvesting techniques and equipment. Email: email@example.com