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Upscaling Sustainable Charcoal Production in Namibia

By The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany - Windhoek
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According to the best available estimates, 26-30 million hectares of Namibian farmland are affected bybush encroachment. Evidence exist that this phenomenon severely degrades rangelands and hampersagricultural productivity. At the same time bush encroachment creates unique opportunities for theNamibian economy if biomass is recognised as a valuable resource for existing and new value chains.

Acknowledging the overall importance of bush control, the governments of Namibia and Germany agreedon a 4-year Project to address both the challenges and opportunities that bush encroachment entails.

The Support to De-bushing Project runs from 2014 until 2017 and is a bilateral cooperation between theNamibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and the Government of the FederalRepublic of Germany. It is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit(GIZ) GmbH.

The Project's overall objective is to trigger large-scale bush thinning activities. To this end a demand-driven approach is pursued, focusing on the identification and testing of potential bush based biomassvalue chains. The Project selected three value chains to be supported during the course of its projectlifetime, namely the value chains of charcoal, animal feed and biomass energy.

The MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project conducted a first charcoal stakeholder workshop inNovember 2015 in Otjiwarongo to identify joint sector promotion activities for the year 2016.

Theidentified activities were based on the Sector Growth Strategy developed by the Ministry forIndustrialisation, Trade and SME Development (MITSD). The charcoal stakeholders agreed on the jointvision to develop a fully functioning sector association and to introduce improved productionmethodologies in order to foster sustainable charcoal production in Namibia.

It is against this background that the MAWF/ GIZ Support to De-Bushing Project has signed a FinancialAgreement with the Namibian Agricultural Union, to which the NCPA is currently affiliated.

Theagreements foresees financial support of NAD 1,691,000 (ONE MILLION SIX HUNDRED NINETY ONETHOUSAND) and runs for the period April 2016 to December 2016.

The financial agreement encompasses the following activity areas: 1) re-shaping the organisationalstructures of the NCPA, 2) setting up a pilot project on improved production technologies andmethodologies, 3) developing a marketing strategy for the Namibian charcoal sector, 4) developinginformational material and training manuals.

The official start of this cooperation was celebrated during an inception meeting, which took place at theC'est Si Bon Hotel in Otjiwarongo on Thursday, 31 March 2016. The meeting was attended by NCPAmanagement and members, NAU representatives, as well as representatives of MAWF/Directorate ofForestry and GIZ.

The NCPA will hold a Special Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday 25 April 2016 in order to confirmthe planned institutional changes.