A Succulent Bio-Economy project was introduced to Namibian stakeholders by a team of the University of Oxford and the Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences. The project aims to kick-start the production of succulents in Namibia as a way to create biomass on semi-arid and degraded lands. Succulents are hyper-water-efficient compared to most other plants. The biomass created can be converted in a range of products, from fodder to proteins and renewable energy. Succulent production has the potential to diversify farmers’ income, especially considering the warmer and drier climate conditions predicted for Namibia in the face of climate change.
B2Gold Mine and the Namibian Chamber of the Environment (NCE) are supporting the initiative through the provision of land and services, expertise and seed funding. The project is also a potential contribution to alternative income generation for mine employees. Before the project introduction at NUST Hotel School, the core science team thrashed out the finer details during a two-day workshop hosted by B2Gold. Phase 1 is research oriented, with a focus on optimising succulent yield, establishing a carbon baseline, and investigating the potential of indigenous succulents.
Succulent production can be a truly transformative initiative for the local economy by presenting a novel bio-economy and positioning Namibia as a leader in the future of diversifying dryland agriculture in the face of climate change.