28 Feb 2014 10:20am
By Pearl Coetzee
OPUWO, 28 FEB (NAMPA) A processing facility for indigenous natural products and a visitors centre opened at Opuwo on Thursday.
This facility was sponsored by the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N).
Speaking at the event, MCA-N chief executive officer Penny Akwenye said these facilities are testament to the economic potential that the Kunene Region has in the sector of indigenous natural products such as Devils claw, cammiphora and marula.
And it overlaps with what the MCA-N is doing through its support of communal conservancies all over the country.
It is, therefore, a mix of agriculture as well as tourism projects, with the combined aim of reducing poverty through economic growth, she enthused.
The Opuwo processing facility is owned by the Kunene Conservancy Indigenous Natural Product (KCINP) Trust, which at this stage only comprises five commiphora-producing conservancies namely Puros, Orupembe, Marienfluss, Sanitatas and Okondjombo.
The facility is an essential oil distillation facility - distilling Colophospermum mopane seeds and Commiphora wildii resin. This is the traditional Himba perfume plant also known as the Namibian myrrh.
The visitors centre will not only extend the business of the facility, but will also provide a fascinating and new tourist opportunity for the inhabitants of the town.
The constructing, furniture, fittings and marketing of the centre were made possible through a grant of more than N.dollars 727 000 availed by the MCA-Ns Conservancy Development Support Grant.
Much of the equipment at the processing facility was procured through MCA-Ns Primary Production Improvement Fund.
Harvesters received technical assistance to establish an effective and efficient supply chain, thereby ensuring local ownership over their natural resources.
Grants from the MCA-Ns Innovation Fund also allowed for specific research, product development and, to a certain extent, market developments.
Speaking at the same event, Kunene Regional Governor Joshua Hoebeb called on the custodians of the natural products to do everything in their power to codify and formalise the intellectual property rights of the OvaHimba women.
I urged the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRNDC) organisation to continue deepening the understanding of the immense value of these unique indigenous trees and others to protect its existence in folklore and modern law, he noted.
The OvaHimba women have kept the indigenous memories alive by being the real botanical encyclopaedia on medicinal plants, perfumes and cosmetics from a variety of trees, plants, leaves, barks, roots and flowers, Hoebeb said.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)s Resident Country Director, Steve Dobrilovic called on the Namibian government not to forget the people of Opuwo and the industry after the MCA-N closes its doors in September 2014, but rather to devise ways to continue supporting them whether it is by promoting linkages with international markets for these products, or creating a suitable regulatory environment which allows harvesters and processors to thrive and sell products to international buyers at the most reasonable costs and optimal quantities, he stated.