Ecologs provide sufficient fuel
The company, Omuriro Biomass is the brain child of Okahandja entrepreneur Heiko Meyer and businessman, Norbert Liebich who came up with the idea of controlling the bush encroachment problem that is prevalent in many districts across the country.
The process of manufacturing Ecologs involves harvesting the bush which is then set to dry before turned into chips and finally formed into logs. By harvesting the invader bush, the carrying capacity of the land is improved significantly. This enables farmers to increase their production. It also avoids the cutting down of mature protected trees.
Omuriro Biomass received financing from the Development Bank (DBN) early this year but because of a delay in the production process, the company only started its production in September and had cleared about 300 hectares of bush by the end of the month. The company now clears four hectares of bush a day.
“Aside from the benefit of reducing bush encroachment, the bank believes that this product has the ability to relieve the burden on households that are dependent on wood for cooking and heating water. Many households spend hours every week collecting or buying wood, and a product such as this has the ability to free those hours for productivity and education,” said DBN Acting Head of Lending, John Mbango.
According to Frank Gschwender of WoodCo, a marketing and distributing company of Namibian Biomass products, Ecologs are a substitute for wood used as a form of fuel. “Firewood is very expensive hence Ecologs are not only environmentally friendly but are also of high quality and are cost-effective,” he said.
Gschwender added that the Ecologs have the full potential to benefit informal communities who are more dependent on firewood as the logs last longer than normal firewood. “The plan now is to find out how to introduce this product to the informal market. Many people especially those who sell kapana (informal barbequed meat) have informed us that they buy firewood at a very high price,” he noted.
However, he pointed out that although some people who tried out the Ecologs were satisfied with the product, there where still those who remained unconvinced by this new innovation. “Wood sellers in particular where suspicious and skeptical of the logs as they don’t quite understand the benefits that come with the new product,” he said.
Ecologs are currently available in Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Okahandja and Oshikango and will soon be introduced to South Africa, the Middle East as well as to the European market.
In Windhoek, the logs can be found at the Pupkewitz Megabuild hardware stores as well as in Pick n Pay and Spar supermarkets and are sold at both retail and bulk prices.