From bush to fuel to jobs
Bush encroachment, the result of overgrazing, is a problem for Namibian agriculture. When cattle overgraze on grass, they create perfect conditions for thorn bushes to shoot up. As more and more thorn bushes grow, the area available for grazing shrinks, creating difficult conditions for farmers. In addition, the thorn bushes are difficult and expensive to clear. Heiko Meyer and Norbert Liebich looked at what was considered a major problem and saw an opportunity to create benefits for farming, low income households and conservation, with the possibility of an export product as well.
By harvesting the invader bush they could clear land for farmers, provide a sustainable source of fuel for household fires, and reduce the incidence of cutting down protected trees such as the Camelthorn. In order to create a usable source of fuel, the two realised that the bush would have to be converted into the form of logs. So the idea of the Ecologs, was born.
DBN Acting Head of Lending, John Mbango, said agri-processing is normally associated with meat, dairy and grain, so Ecologs is a standout for the Bank. “We immediately saw the many benefits from the Omuriro Biomass project and the financing decision was relatively easy.” After a transport mishap with the chipping machine was sorted out, actual production began in September this year and the company has cleared 300 hectares of bush. Currently the company is able to clear four hectares of bush per day. The company now employs 23 Namibians, eight of whom are women.