N-BiG training empowers bush harvesters
The Namibia Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG), in partnership with Cymot and Stihl, recently concluded two chainsaw and brush cutter training courses. The first, a train-the-trainer course was aimed at business owners and contractors, while the second was a train-the-operator course, tailored more towards workers and operators.
The training courses were a huge success, with close to 40 participants in total. The curriculum covered personal safety, handling, maintenance, operations and environmental aspects of chainsaw and brush cutter use for bush control.
The train-the-trainer course took place on Farm Langbeen, in the Dordabis area, and also included demonstrations of charcoal and animal feed production from encroacher bush. The main takeaway from the training was to maintain the equipment correctly, as regular maintenance checks are critical to ensuring the equipment’s longevity and cost efficiency.
The train-the-operator course was hosted on the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s research farm, Okomumbonde, in the Waterberg area. Here, the participants were exposed to the active de-bushing efforts on the farm, as well as the benefits of using power tools in approaching bush control, as opposed to the traditional labour-based methods used on many farms currently.
The main takeaway of this training was operator safety, equipment handling and predominantly improved productivity gains, made possible by the use of semi-mechanised means of bush control.
The benefits of using chainsaws and brush cutters for bush control activities are many. Most importantly, the equipment, if used correctly, is more efficient and thus also more cost effective than labour-based methods of bush control.
Secondly, the tools offer better working conditions and require further skills development, helping to uplift society, in line with Namibia’s Vision 2030, national development plans, industrialisation policy and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
Thirdly, mechanising bush control operations, in line with environmental management guidelines, fast-tracks the restoration of rangelands and the anticipated improvements in agricultural output.
The common misconception surrounding chainsaws and brush cutters are that they are costly and suffer regular mechanical failures in our extreme environments. However, in reality, when properly operated and maintained, these tools can be used effectively and efficiently in our efforts to control Namibia’s ever growing bush encroachment problem.
The latest estimates indicate that bush encroachment affects 45 million hectares of Namibia, reducing the productive quality of the land it affects and retention of groundwater. Not only would increased de-bushing efforts improve productive capacity, but will also yield a valuable biomass resource with limitless possibilities in using the wood in the generation of energy, production of animal feed for livestock and manufacturing of various wood-based products.
N-BiG is the newly formed industry association for Namibia’s biomass industry. The organisation is a member-driven and not-for-profit company, whose aim is to facilitate the growth of a diverse and skills-based industry around Namibia’s huge biomass resource. Not only does N-BiG facilitate industry-related training, but also offers a wide range of services to its members, including research and information dissemination to technical and business development expertise and advice.
To become a member of N-BiG or for more information, please visit www.n-big.org and follow us on Facebook @BiomassNamibia.