Biomass sector has N$76bn potential – Shifeta

Namibia has potential to generate N$76 billion in 25 years if the country rehabilitates and restores its encroached bush land, Environment, Forestry and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta has said.

The country currently faces several pressing environmental challenges, which include bush encroachment, biodiversity loss and climate change. Bush encroachment involves the replacement of native grasses by encroaching bush species.

"About 45 million hectares of our grassland savannah are estimated to be affected by bush encroachment. This has severe negative impacts on biodiversity, soils, water availability, the land productivity and the livelihoods of our people, which are largely dependent on the country’s vast natural savannah ecosystem,” the minister said.

"Yet our situation with regard to bush encroachment also offers numerous economic opportunities. The bush can be used as a basis for value chains that contribute to improved domestic economic development, add value to export products, create employment and income in rural areas and can be an innovation driver for future green technologies.”

Shifeta made these remarks at the opening of the Biomass Fair Industry Conference and launch of the National Strategy on the Sustainable Management of Bush Resources 2022-2027.

“It is notable that today’s Biomass Fair is taking place under the theme 'Discovering a new decade for biomass', hence it is critical that this is done sustainably, and based on application of science and on value addition. We also have to ensure that such a process benefits our local communities," he stressed.

The Environment Minister indicated that employment creation, diversification of farming enterprises’ income streams especially during drought years; including the innovative value chains of bush-based animal feed, biochar for soil enhancement and the much-anticipated NamPower's 40 Megawatt biomass power plant, are some of the impressive achievement that the industry attains.

"I am informed that in spite of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bush biomass sector is one that continues to grow  and it is a sector with high economic potential as we recover from  the impacts of the pandemic. It is therefore, not surprising to see a growing interest from the private sector, national and international development institutions to promote bush value chains and build a flourishing bush-based biomass industry," he said.

"This Strategy provides a framework to ensure that bush resources are used sustainably with value added. The development of the bush biomass sector benefits all Namibians and the broader environment, hence, I reach out to all the stakeholders, both private and public, to join hands and support us in ensuring the successful implementation of the strategy.”

He also noted that his Ministry was committed to ensure the optimal management and use of bush resources to safeguard the sustainability of the resource base and to generate environmental and socio-economic benefits.

It is also essential to ensure that our bush control efforts contribute to achieving important international commitments on deforestation and afforestation, land degradation and desertification, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as conservation of biological diversity as outlined in the Rio Conventions, he added.

“Adaptation to climate change is a key priority for Namibia and restoration of our Savannah, bush biomass utilization and value addition are identified as key adaptation actions in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).”

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Last modified on Thursday, 08 September 2022 20:26

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