Bush encroachment of farmland in Namibia, whether commercial, resettlement or communal, has been recognized as an area requiring priority attention, given its impact on land productivity and grazing capacity as cited in NDP4 and NDP5 respectively. Efforts to reclaim land through bush control activities have been undertaken by some, using manual,chemical, mechanical and biological methods.
The benefits of bush control to rangeland and consequently to livestock productivity have been demonstrated, yet despite this comparatively few farmers and land users in affected areas have made an effort to undertake bush control measures.
The lack of adequate extension services addressing knowledge on bush control and biomass utilisation matters in Namibia has been a bottleneck in the past apart from individualised advises, also confirmed by the results from the De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) Demand Survey, and inputs from stakeholder workshops of 2015.
This led to the development and operationalisation of the De-bushing Advisory Service by the MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project in 2015, now called Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation.
DAS is the repository for information, and focus activities on providing the framework and tools for existing public and private extension services, as well as a broker for information and access to financial and technical know hows in support to the solution around bush encroachment.
Advisory services to farmers are channelled through existing private and public extension service structures, but these should be strengthened in the field of bush encroachment and bush control through training and information on the entire value chain (including marketing and distribution thereof). Capacity building and information sharing has been the core impact that DAS has brought to the agricultural sector since its operations.
The impact of DAS operations have provided guidance to many farmers, organisations, and individual land users that intends to engage in bush control, biomass utilisation and aftercare management.
The results led to improved understanding and implementation of best practiced bush control and biomass utilisation activities in both communal and commercial parts of Namibia.
Recently, a project on bush control and biomass utilisation kick-started in Okongo, Onghalulu co-operative in collaboration with the Communal Land Development Project (CLDP), where the community are doing selective bush control for the objective of restoring grazing and producing bush products such as firewood, droppers and poles for sale and shared financial benefits.
This initiative currently benefits close to 100 communal farmers in the area.
Our aim is to continue increasing knowledge and capacities on bush encroachment, sustainable bush control and utilisation for contribution to improved rangeland conditions and agricultural productivity.
• Author: Progress Kashandula is the General Manager of De-bushing Advisory Service. He brings along a total of over 5 years of practical and theoretical experience in environmental field work and over 7 years of biomass production and utilisation process, and senior managerial experience supported with diverse academic qualifications in similar operations.
For more information, see www.dasnamibia.org