OTJIWARONGO - The Chief Executive of Standard Bank Namibia, Vetumbuavi Mungunda, has hailed the just-ended Biomass and Technology Expo, saying it helps to develop technologies that can be applied for better use of rangeland and productivity of farming communities in Namibia.
The Biomass and Technology Expo took place last Friday at a lodge 40 kilometres outside Otjiwarongo and it attracted over 50 exhibitors and hundreds of visitors, mainly established and emerging farmers. Standard Bank was the main sponsor of the expo.
Since farming is the main source of livelihood for over 60 to 70 percent of Namibians, Mungunda said it was important to strengthen and increase the productivity of farmland, which could lead to improved livelihoods and reduction of poverty in rural areas.
“Having events like this one helps to make sure that, as a country, we have an opportunity to look into the technology that can be made available [not only] for better utilisation and harvesting but also processing and value addition of what we have,” he said.
He added: “As Standard Bank, we also believe that, as a financier, it is important to engage clients in our communities in our country with regard to the whole value chain to understand their needs, to understand their requirements and also what can be done to improve the production across the whole value chain.”
In view of the debilitating drought, Mungunda said it was pleasing to note that some farmers have branched into other productive avenues such as charcoal harvesting.
“The diversification from livestock farming helps farming communities not only to deal with the drought that we are experiencing but also to generate additional income for themselves and for the country,” stated the executive.
Mungunda also welcomed recent policy announcements by government regarding the registration of bush feed (also known as bush fodder or boskos), as animal feed and harvesting of charcoal in communal areas.
He said registration of bush-feed as animal fodder will allow for further investments, innovation and research into the product, which could in future substitute the importation of animal fodder from other countries.
The Standard Bank executive noted that if research goes to the extent where bush-feed becomes competitive, it can also be exported to other countries and thus generate much-needed foreign currency.
On harvesting of charcoal in communal areas, he said it will provide income-generating opportunities and relief for farmers who are severely affected by the current drought.
“These policy announcements help to stimulate new interests, new investments and new research,” he noted.