SHINYUNGWE - If one drives along the Trans-Caprivi Highway especially in Ndiyona and Mukwe Constituency of Kavango East Region, people mostly women are seen selling thatch grass.
They harvest in the forest surrounding their villages and they display it along the highway were potential buyers can spot them.
Usually, this thatch grass is collected during dry seasons from April to November.
New Era spoke to Bonifasia Shitoka Mukoveka, 48, at Shinyungwe village I, who said thatch grass enables her put bread on the table, especially now that there was no harvest from her mahangu field.
With an income derived from the selling of thatch, she is able to feed her family.
“This is how we take care of our families, early morning, the whole homestead goes in the wild, deep in the forest to go and cut the grass known as ‘Nangondwe’ from as early as 6h00am and we work the whole day. After that we bring the grass home and prepare it to be sold along the highway,” said Mukoveka.
Sometimes they would spend days in dense forest harvesting this popular grass that is used to build enchanting lodges and thatch houses in different places across the country, while some is exported.
“When we get some money, we buy food and do other things so life goes on, it’s tough this year as we have not managed to harvest anything in our mahangu field nor have we received any drought relief food. So we have to depend on this thatch grass business to make ends meet. We have a lot of grass deep in the forest, sometimes we walk more than six kilometres carrying the grass on our heads all the way home,” Mukoveka said.
Although there is a lot of work involved from harvesting and carrying the grass for a distance to where it is displayed, this thatch grass is mostly sold at N$8 to N$10 per bundle.
Many locals in this rural Kavango East especially those that live along the Trans-Caprivi Highway make a living from selling this grass.