Project 1: Optimisation of Manual Control Methods and Technologies

Project Coordination:

Faculty: Faculty of Engineering

Project Leader: Mr Evert Strydom
Project Collaborators: Prof Pio Barone Lumaga


Strategic Partners:

o Inventec

Inventec operates from Otjiwarongo and has first-hand experience in design   and construction of manual and semi mechanised bush control machines and   tools.


o Namibia Small Contractors Association
Namibia Small Contractors Association (NSCA) aims to provide a platform for small contractors that are involved in construction, maintenance and other contractual work to collaborate, coordinate, network, disseminate and share information in the procurement of services.


o Cheetah Conservation Fund – Technology Centre
The CCF Technology centre is researching a wide range of biomass technologies with an emphasis on those that can generate sustained economic enterprises and will thus form a key partner in technology development.


o Lisha Empowerment and Upliftment
Lisha Empowerment and Upliftment (LEU) operates with the local rural communities and will facilitation and link NUST with local rural communities within the bush harvesting sector.


The specific deliverables are:

This project stretches over a period of 2.5 years.

(1) To improve and/or develop 2x different manual and semi-mechanised machines which can at least double the effectiveness of current manual bush harvesting methods,

(2) To test and validate these prototypes for local production, and

(3) To train at least 5 bush harvesting teams according to the new and improved methods and machines.

Technologies both for harvesting and for processing are internationally available. What is required is to tailor these technologies to local conditions e.g. in terms of affordability, maintenance, production as well as robustness. Agriculture contributes 7% to Namibia’s GDP and employs almost 50% of its population directly and indirectly. However, Namibia’s agricultural grazing capacity has been almost halved during the last century. This is mostly due to factors such as over-grazing due to droughts and poor rangeland management. Rural small-scale and subsistence farmers are suffering most due to a lack of rangeland infrastructure and communal land policies. In some areas, desertification impacts are severe, and conditions are dire. Bush encroachment is widely experienced which drastically reduces the animal carrying capacity. These invasive bush species form impenetrable thickets, rendering large areas of agricultural land unusable.

Rampant bush encroachment supports the industry of bush harvesting and charcoal/briquette manufacturing. Most commercial forms of bush harvesting are done by means of mechanisation, which is too costly for small scale farmers. However, bulldozers are causing greater damage to the environment than manual bush harvesting. Bulldozers are four times cheaper than manual bush harvesting but employ 20 times less people. If the speed of manual bush harvesting can be increased to compete economically and socially with bulldozing, many jobs can be created while doing less damage to the environment.

This project will improve manual bush harvesting methods, tools and ergonomic conditions towards job creation and poverty alleviation. Thus far, several different prototypes have been developed which could double the speed of manual bush harvesting. This project is in line with Namibia’s Vision 2030 that targets production technology and sustainable development, agriculture and employment creation, etc. Improved manual bush harvesting and the local production of bush harvesting tools, has the potential to create many jobs in the rural landscape and greatly improve Namibia’s social and economic inequality. The involvement of key stakeholders, such as the Namibia Small Contractors Association (NSCA) will serve to test the viability of new/improved technologies for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) service provision. Today, most bush harvesting is organised by farmers. An increased involvement of SMEs will help to professionalise the industry. Training of selected SMEs can be implemented in cooperation with the NSCA.