Biomass can be converted to a range of products, from fodder to proteins and renewable energy. Dr Vera De Cauwer, Senior Lecturer in the FNRSS highlighted that, “Succulent plant production has the potential to restore degraded lands and to diversify farmers’ income, especially considering the warmer and drier climate conditions predicted for Namibia.”
The trial represents the first phase of a larger project called, ‘The Succulent Bio-Economy Project’. It is an initiative between NUST, the University of Oxford and the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE). Last year, researchers got the opportunity to use land of the B2Gold Mine in the Otjikoto Region, where they planted succulent plants on a trial field in collaboration with the NCE.
“Two indigenous species have shown promising results in the preliminary experiments and are included in the field trial. These are the yellow milk bush and the paintbrush flower,” Dr De Cauwer said. Additionally, the trial will also include non-indigenous species, such as the rubber euphorbia, prickly pear and spekboom/elephant bush that have proven biomass production capacity under controlled conditions.
The research team expects that it will take approximately two years before sufficient biomass can be harvested.