Devil’s claw harvesting bolsters conservancies

Devil’s claw has been lauded for its effective treatment of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and perhaps has one of the oldest histories with regards to commercialisation of any plant according to the National Botanical Research Institute. Another important facet of Devil’s claw is its ability to generate healthy revenues for rural communities harvesting the plant.
One such community which has taken the initiative to benefit from the harvesting of the naturally growing plant is the Sachona Community in the Zambezi Region, located approximately less than 100 kilometres from Kongola. The Sachona conservancy, the Economist noted on a recent visit to the Zambezi, managed to generate revenues in excess of N$700,000, prompting the Economist to establish just what made the conservancy tick.
This week, the Economist spoke to a Eben Ueepu, a Field Officer working for Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, a non-governmental organisation which works in conjunction with rural communities across the country.
Said Ueepu confidently, “we are expecting a huge number of harvesters this year. A lot of the short-term income activities have come to an end. People will come back,” in anticipation of the harvesting season which kicked off on 1 March 2016 and is expected to run up until 31 October 2016.
According to him, the Sachona conservancy alone managed to harvest 35 tons and attracted the interest of as much as 12 exporters. “We have not concluded any sells agreements with our potential buyers yet. In the past, we worked with two exporters, namely; Echo Dynamic CC and Kamaku Exporters. We have seen that the demand will be high and we have not negotiated with any buyers as of yet,” said Ueepu.
While the harvesting of Devil’s claw was allowed in eight conservancies in the Zambezi Region, Ueepu explained that Sachona, like the rest of the seven competing conservancies only had Primary Producer Status, a situation he said delayed the harvesting season. “Although the official harvesting period has started, harvesters in the eight conservancies in the Zambezi Region will have to apply for permits.” This, he said, was necessary to sell and even transport the plant.
Ueepu also noted that harvesters would have to exercise restraint, owing to strict quota set. “The areas have quotas that are set. Our biggest challenge would be to ensure harvesters stay within their quotas.” Another challenge Ueepu pointed out was the competition not only locally but even regionally, with countries like Zambia and Angola in their infancy of Devil’s claw harvesting. He noted that the situation could change but remained confident that harvesters in the Zambezi Region would relish in the challenge.

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