Sachona community expects bumper Devil’s claw harvest

08 Mar 2016 16:20pm
KATIMA MULILO, 08 MAR (NAMPA) – Devil’s claw harvesters at the Zambezi Region’s Sachona Community Forest are expecting a bumper harvest this year after severe drought jeopardised the industry over the past few years.
The herb is dried to make medicine for illnesses such as arthritis, gout, fever, migraines and kidney and bladder related diseases.
Namibia exports the medicinal plant, with Germany and France dominating the market.
The Treasurer of the community forest, Alfred Tumelo is very optimistic that harvesters will receive a good income from their harvest this year. He was speaking during a recent media tour organised by the Namibian Association of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (Nacso).
“The rain is more now compared to the last two years so we expect to harvest more this year. The money goes directly to the workers - mostly women. We harvest sustainably for our future generations,” he said.
Conservancy members from the Mandume north and south complexes also harvest devil’s claw in the community forest.
The community started with intensive harvesting in 2011. Less than 500 workers were divided into three different groups and they harvested 59 tonnes with an estimated value of N.dollars 1.1 million for the periods 2011 and 2012.
In 2013, the group harvested 62 tonnes of devil’s claw worth N.dollars 1.3 million. The best performance was in 2014, when about N.dollars 2.4 million was made, with nearly 700 workers employed at the centre. Each harvester received a monthly salary of between N.dollars 3 000 to N.dollars 5 000, depending on their individual harvests.
Due to the dire consequences of what has been the worst drought in nearly 30 years in Namibia, the community however only made N.dollars 730 000 last year. Workers depend on wells for water during their search for the herb in the forest, and can spend from a few days to weeks harvesting. Last year, however, the wells dried up due to the drought and during that time, many workers quit to find other means of income, Tumelo said.
Meanwhile, at the same meeting, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRNDC) field officer Eben Tjiteera said the future looks bright for the devil’s claw harvesters after the region received some rain over the past few weeks.
“We expect a very high demand; the price of devil’s claw might shoot up and the supply might also increase,” he added.
The harvesting season for devil’s claw starts in March and ends in October every year.