Agribank and GIZ sign second MoU on bush control
29 November 2019 | Agriculture
Key milestones achieved during the previous MoU period include:
• The hosting of joint training on bush control and biomass utilisation topics which resulted in an increase in outreach to farmers;
• Increase in visibility on efforts by Agribank and GIZ/MAWF project in bush control and biomass utilisation topics;
• Establishment of a Technical Working Group on financing and/or incentivising bush control and biomass utilisation activities; and
• Training of trainers on bush control and biomass utilisation, whereby Agri Advisory Services Division Technical Officers and some mentors received the training and certification.
The new MoU reflects the two parties’ intention to extend and strengthen their collective activities. These include the development of financing products aimed at scaling-up projects in bush control and biomass utilisation, using the expertise of the De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) - a national information and capacity building hub, on sustainable bush control and bush-based biomass utilisation.
Other areas include advice on risk assessment of applicable loans, sharing of relevant information, hosting of capacity building activities for farmers and SMEs as well as current loan holders and monitoring and evaluation of bush control and biomass utilisation activities by loan holders.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Agribank chief executive Sakaria Nghikembua said that Agribank and GIZ enjoy a long-standing relationship, and the extension of the agreement demonstrates the two institutions’ commitments in transforming the agricultural sector as well as their common goal in contributing to the socio-economic development of Namibia.
“The new agreement underscores our intent to make a difference on bush control and biomass utilisation. It will enable us to help more farmers and entrepreneurs to access financing and agri-advisory services and turn the challenge of bush encroachment into value addition opportunities.”
On his part, the Team Leader of the GIZ/MAWF Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project, Johannes Laufs, is confident that the renewal of this MoU will set the two institutions at the forefront of bush biomass activities, specifically on access to finance.
“Our strengths as a development agency are in providing the necessary technical assistance to enable Namibian institutions, such as Agribank, to tackle challenges of bush encroachment, thereby contributing to economic development and fostering a new economic sector. The year 2019 can be considered as a turning point in this regard. While the country suffers from its worst drought of the century, the utilisation of bush-biomass has emerged as a viable solution, effectively contributing to drought mitigation and adaptation to climate change,” Laufs said.
According to him, a significant number of farmers have taken up alternative value chains, such as bush-based animal fodder production and charcoal production. This he said, is “partly driven by the dire need and partly by opportunities as membership in the sector associations has risen sharply from 250 to over 1 000 in the last two years”.
He noted that an estimated 10 000 workers, representing about 1% of Namibia’s working population, are now employed in bush control and biomass processing activities in the country.
The General Manager of the De-bushing Advisory Service, Mr Progress Kashandula, complemented these remarks and highlighted key achievements of the previous years of cooperation between DAS and AgriBank.