Agribank has signed a one year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project.
The MoU covers the following areas for cooperation;
- Products development: collaborate in the development of financing products aimed at scaling-up projects in bush control and biomass utilisation.
- Loans risk assessment: utilise the valuable knowledge and information of the De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) for risk assessment of bush control and bush-based value addition loans.
- Information sharing: DAS offers to provide referral service on Agribank’s loan products relevant to bush control and biomass utilisation, as part of their outreach services. Reciprocally, Agribank will be sharing information/data on loan products specifically on the uptake of related loans and especially those associated with the focal area of this MoU.
- Capacity building: DAS and Agribank to jointly coordinate capacity building activities for bush control loan holders. The parties will ensure that loan applicants undergo technical training in sustainable rangeland management, sustainable bush control and technologies used, biomass processing and utilisation, and the economics of bush control.
- Monitor and Evaluate: DAS and Agribank to collaborate in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of bush control and biomass utilisation activities by loan holders, and assess short proposals.
The De-bushing Advisory Service as a leading organisation and focal point for questions relating to bush encroachment, bush control and value addition to bush will be the main co-operator in the implementation of this agreement.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, noted that the MOU demonstrates Agribank’s resolve to play a meaningful role in the socio-economic transformation and development of Namibia. “We continuously strive to innovate ways and means to ensure that our products and services become more accessible to all Namibians in order to contribute to the development of agriculture in this country. Bush encroachment has proven to be a problem in many parts of the country and we trust that through this agreement, more farmers and entrepreneurs will have access to financing and advisory services to turn the challenge of bush encroachment into value addition opportunities”,Nghikembua stated.
On his part, GIZ Project Team Leader Frank Gschwender emphasised that there is great potential for a diversified industry based on Namibian encroacher bush. “The scope of bush encroachment is huge, estimated at more than 30 million hectares of land amounting to a total of 200 to 300 million tonnes of biomass, providing Namibia with a sheer unlimited resource which is in high demand globally”. According to Gschwender, the knowledge of the opportunities created through biomass utilisation is crucial for the industry to flourish. As an emerging industry, the sector is faced with difficulties in accessing financial products to upscale bush control and value chain initiatives. As such, this cooperation is seen as a roadmap to create financial models suited to boost the bush-based biomass industry, thereby achieving large-scale rangeland restoration, Gschwender concluded.
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