By Risco Lumamezi
TRIBAL Chiefs in the Caprivi have allocated a total of 300,000 hectares of fertile land to LLBiofuel Namibia to farm plants that will provide Namibia with biofuels, Caprivi Vision has established.
Mr Kombandayedu Kapwanga, the Managing Director of LLD Diamond who is also Director of LLBiofuel Namibia said the project was mooted back in 2007 after feasibility studies of 134,952 hectares of land were conducted.
Trial farming of crops such as Castor and Jatropha was done previously on a trial basis on a Katima farm some 10 kilometres near the banks of the Zambezi River.
“This is a community project, it is only an experiment at Katima Farm and we told people not to go there and look for jobs” said Kapwanga.
The Caprivi Region was identified as a region with an abundance of water, land, manpower and the support of Traditional Authorities who have given up their fertile land that is good for agricultural production.
The Caprivians location makes it a getaway to neighbouring countries like Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The region also enjoys good rainfall and climate for agricultural production.
The whole project is co-owned by three companies, LL Biofuel Namibia Ltd which is a part of the Leviev Group with extensive operations, experience and knowledge in establishing projects in Namibia and other African countries; Evogene Ltd a leading developer of improved plants for the agri-biotech and biofuel industries with partnerships in world-leading companies, like Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta and Bayer Crop Science including Orfuel and Ormat Industries Ltd., and a US subsidiary in alternative energy and a leading provider of solutions for geothermal power.
This Caprivi project is owned by other key shareholders such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Caprivi Regional Council, the Katima Mulilo Town Council, the National Youth Service and Tribal Authorities.
The need to invest in Namibia was prompted by the fact that although the country has 34% of land suitable for farming, only 1.4% is currently used.
Namibia, imports 80% – 90% of its food requirements from South Africa, which could grow its own crops to satisfy local demand and for export. This has resulted in a serious dependence on other countries for food, which has led to difficulties to control prices.
At the end of the 2007 feasibility study, the economic potential of growing crops for biofuels such as castor, jatropha and moringa in East Caprivi, was identified and was earmarked to grow crops for the production of bio-diesels.
The project’s primary goal is to create a renewable fuel to cut the current skyrocketing prices of petroleum prices.
The discovery of bio-diesel from vegetable-oil for use in car engines was made by Rudolph Diesel in 1890. In 1970 scientists could extract ethanol from food crops such as maize, sugar-cane, soya-beans and rice.
The project has secured hectares of land from seven communities of Caprivi, which are Bukalo 10,000 hectares, Linyanti 30,000 hectares, Sangwali 20,000, Kongola 60,000 hectares at Sachona 30,000, Ihaha 100,000 hectares and 50,000 at Mutikitila.
Caprivi has a population of 79,852 according to the 2001 census. Shortly after Namibia’s independence in 1990, Government tried to use the huge tracts of land in Caprivi for a project that was to be co-run with an Egyptian company. This project was sidelined by opposition political leaders and failed dismally.
According to the current project business plan, about 20,000 jobs will be created for the rural community.