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Time to modernise biomass sector for the betterment of agriculture

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Namibia Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG) Chief Executive Officer, Progress Kashandula has revealed that the goal is to further grow and modernize the Biomass sector as charcoal production has become a major contributor to agricultural exports.

The Namibian biomass sector has almost doubled its employment from 6,000 to 11,000 within the past five years and put in place important measures ensuring environmental and social sustainability standards, an official said Tuesday.

According to Kashandula, charcoal exports constituted 17 per cent of total agricultural exports in 2019.

Further, charcoal is one of the government’s growth focus sectors and a vital pillar in developing the overall bio-economy in Namibia, he added.

“A vibrant bush-biomass sector will provide room for unskilled labour as well as for formal qualifications, this is in line with strategic development goals and Namibia’s development agenda. This concept is an immediate solution to youth unemployment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the government together with N-BiG identified opportunities that contribute to youth self-employment in the agriculture sector and on Oct. 15 launched a charcoal and biomass utilization business concept.

According to Kashandula, the pilot phase will create employment opportunities for 55 youths who will undergo two types of training, namely, civic training to instil discipline, sense of responsibility and ownership as well as harvesting and charcoal making.

To date, estimates are that 45 million hectares of rangeland are severely affected by bush thickening in Namibia and despite the negative consequences of bush encroachment, it creates opportunities and multiple benefits