30 Sep 2013 10:40
WINDHOEK, 30 SEP (NAMPA) Bush encroachment, deforestation and uncontrolled fires continue to have a severe impact on agriculture production in Namibia, and is a major concern.
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) John Mutorwa raised these issues during the opening of the 19th session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) here on Monday.
The five-day conference is taking place under the theme Development of the forest and wildlife sectors for effective contribution to food security and a green economy in Africa.
Mutorwa said Namibia is blessed with dry forests and woodlands which play a pivotal and life-supporting role in the lives of many citizens.
Bush encroachment, which is defined as invasion and, or thickening of aggressive, undesired woody species resulting in an imbalance of the grass, is a national concern.
Deforestation in the woodlands of northern Namibia is another area of concern one that remains a challenge for our law-enforcement officials, while uncontrolled fires remain a serious problem in many parts of Namibia, he bemoaned.
However, the MAWF, through the Directorate of Forestry, is mandated to face these challenges; manage forest resources in a sustainable manner; expand the role of forests in development; and open up new economic opportunities around the forest resources.
According to Mutorwa, the MAWF is developing a scheme to reduce the extent of bush encroachment in Namibia through supporting farmers by possibly subsidising bush control and the utilisation of bush removals. The project also aims to promote the creation of rural enterprises which will harvest and utilise unwanted bushes from the bush-encroached land to make charcoal or fire blocks.
On curbing deforestation, Mutorwa said his ministry supports 44 established and emerging community forests through the Community-based Forest Management Programme by building the capacity of rural communities to optimise opportunities from these resources.
Government has also put mechanisms in place in order to prevent the spreading of uncontrolled fires by constructing fire breaks and/or cut lines.
The Agriculture, Water and Forestry is also distributing firefighting tools and equipment to regional councillors and communities.
The African Forestry Wildlife Commission (AFWC) is one of six Regional Forestry Commissions established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss and address forest and wildlife issues on a regional basis.
The conference ends Friday.