Namibia: National Bio-Economy Strategy in the Works

Pupils of Kimisagara Primary School use their laptops acquired under the One-Laptop-Per-Child project (file photo).

A SIX year project aimed at developing a bio-economy strategy for Namibia is under way.

Bio-economy refers to economic activity that utilises biological resources from the land and sea for a sustainable economy.

The development of the strategy is spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in partnership with the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST).

The initiative is funded by FAO to the tune of US$50 000 (N$750 000).

In a briefing last week, senior project consultant Mwangala Nalisa said the strategy is a result of the 'Towards Sustainable Bio-economy Guidelines' project which the FAO is implementing globally.

The global project aims to support FAO member countries in developing coherent and sustainable bio-economy programmes, given the importance of their agricultural sector and the use of biomass to produce energy, food, feed and fibre.

In Namibia, the overall strategy development entails stocktaking and analysis to establish the baseline of the bio-economy landscape, stakeholder engagement and workshop organisation, Nalisa said.

The strategy will consist of a framework of programmes and initiatives addressing multifaceted challenges identified as critical by taking advantage of spillover benefits from other sectors, such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing and health.

Nalisa said the implementation of the strategy runs from 2021-2026.

In 2015, FAO received the mandate to coordinate international work on 'food first' sustainable bio-economy at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture.

Given the importance of Namibia's agricultural sector and the potential use of biomass to produce energy and food, FAO took up the opportunity to support the drafting of the strategy.

The manager for bio-technology at NCRST, Paulus Mungeyi, said Namibia has a rich bio-diversity with the potential to be utilised for sustainable production to create knowledge, science, technology, and innovation resulting in products, processes and services able to provide meaningful employment and alleviate hunger.

"Building a sustainable bio-economy sector will assist in addressing several social, environmental and economic challenges the country faces," Mungeyi said.

He added that the use of biological resources to build sustainable value chains for biomass and bio-products will go a long way in addressing social challenges, including high unemployment, malnutrition and poverty.

FAO said key enablers for the bio-economy sector include adaptation to climate resilient practices, investment in research and education, safeguarding food security and nutrition, employment generation and rural development.

Achievements include the establishment of the bio-economy multisectoral working group, consisting of 27 entities. This includes nine government ministries, five private companies, 10 non-governmental organisations, higher institutions of learning, and parastatals.

The strategy is expected to be finalised by the end of July.

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