Haversting of indigenous plants can alleviate rural poverty: Shifeta

Sustainable wild harvesting and trading of indigenous natural plants has the potential to contribute significantly to the alleviation of rural poverty and conservation of natural resources.

This was said by the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta at the United Nations (UN) Convention to Combat Desertification and Interactive Dialogue on Boosting Sustainable Value Chains for Land Based Business in New Delhi, India on Tuesday.

Shifeta said the commercialisation of wild and produced food could lead diversification of income generating opportunities for rural Namibians and makes a positive contribution to farming systems and household food security while stimulation the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

He noted that communities living in harsh and already marginal agro-environments depend on indigenous natural plants for their livelihoods and the challenge is to support them to sustainably benefit from these resources.

It is the poorest of the poor and more often women living in rural areas that depend on indigenous natural plants to improve their food security and are increasingly engaged in the commercialisation of these products to improve their livelihoods, he said.

He emphasised that positive impact and economic value of natural products on the conservation of indigenous natural plants in Namibia is widely recognised by government, civil society and community leaders alike.

In addition, he said managing resources and rural communities increasingly assume more responsibility for the sustainable use and management of them.

Namibia is committed to ensure the maintenance of health ecosystems on which rural households manage their livelihoods

He added that the efforts compliment the national growth at home strategy that promotes and supports value addition, upgrading and diversification of sustained growth, securing market access at home and abroad as well as improving the investment climate and conditions.

The government will continue to mobilise resources to capacitate communities to develop a more in-depth understanding of food production and processing industry and work towards a consistent as well as effective supply chain whilst simultaneously ensuring that such production processes do not hard the land in particular and the environment in general, Shifeta noted.

Source: Namibia Press Agency