Illegal harvest of !Nara irks Topnaar community

28 Jan 2015 12:49pm
UTUSEB, 25 JAN (NAMPA) – The illegal harvest of !Nara melons along Kuiseb River by non-concession rights holders have become a concern for the indigenous Topnaar community.
The Topnaar community, living some 40km south of Walvis Bay in the Erongo Region, relies on the harvesting of the desert crop for survival.
Chief of the Topnaar Traditional Authority, Seth Kooitjie, said on Friday that only the Topnaar community have concession rights to the Kuiseb Delta and the !Nara fields.
He noted that any other person that need to harvest should have a legal permit from the traditional authority to do so.
Kooitjie explains that although the !Nara is a natural product, it has a strong bond with the Topnaar culture, as such people cannot 'just walk in and harvest as they wish.'
The chief said the issue of the illegal harvesting of the !Nara has been brought under the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) as well as the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry (MAWF).
“When you talk of !Nara you talk of the Topnaar. A Topnaar from Kuiseb cannot just go to the north and illegally harvest natural fruits there,” he said.
On a different matter, Kooitjie said plans are at an advance stage to construct a warehouse to serve as a selling point for !Nara in Utuseb village, some 40 kilometers south of Walvis Bay.
He said the Erongo Regional Council has already provided 172 bags of cement to support the project.
“We are just waiting for more materials and the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before the construction start. This warehouse will make it easy for our people to sell !Nara close to home instead of travelling to Walvis Bay or Swakopmund,” said the chief.
Utuseb resident Paul Gariseb told Nampa on Friday that he was happy with the N.dollars 1 250 profit he made this month on the sale of the !Nara.
He however, raised a concern regarding the lack of permits to sell outside Walvis and Swakopmund.
Gariseb said when he and other residents go to towns such as Usakos and Karibib to sell !Nara, they are asked to produce a permit by the nature conservationist and customers.
“We have been asking the chief to help us get such permits but he did not. He does not even come to Utuseb to hold meetings and explain how things work, we are just in the dark,” said Gariseb.
On this, Kooitjie advised that permits are available from the MAWF office, but residents can also get an authorisation letter from his office to allow them to sell.
“I do hold meetings in Utuseb to explain these things, maybe he does not attend or lives somewhere else and miss all the gatherings,” Kooitjie responded.