INCOME generated from the devil’s claw has seen a decline since the outbreak of Covid-19, with many traders who usually make a living from the plant unable to meet basic needs.
Namibia is the largest supplier of devil’s claw in the world.
In both the Nyae Nyae and N≠a Jaqna conservancies, the sustainable harvesting and sale of the devil’s claw plants are vital to income generation for their members and conservancy management.
Saskia den Adel–Sheehama from the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation confirmed that due to the pandemic, income from these sources has been significantly reduced, making income from other sources increasingly important.
Adel-Sheehama said the harvesting of the devil’s claw also makes a considerable contribution to income opportunities for women, who make up just over 50% of the registered harvesters.
Over the financial year 2020/2021, a total of 1,000 harvesters earned a direct income of about N$4 million.
Adel-Sheehama further explained that a large portion of income for both conservancies is derived from wildlife and tourist related activities.
“The support provided by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia enables conservancy members to generate cash income from the sustainable harvesting of devil’s claw. Support has specifically been provided in the areas of contract negotiations, training and monitoring,” she said.
She further indicated that the assistance provided focuses on empowering individual harvesters to produce a top-quality product, while at the same time ensuring that sustainable harvesting methods are used.
Each year post-harvest impact assessments are carried out by Community-based Natural Resource Rangers in selected harvesting areas to determine compliance with sustainable harvesting methods.
According to Adel-Sheehama, the devil’s claw harvesting in the Nyae Nyae and N≠a Jaqna conservancies is essential for wildlife conservation in two ways.
Firstly, she said, diversified livelihood opportunities and increased ability to cater for basic needs are known to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and secondly that devil’s claw harvesters and rangers spend more time in areas that are not easily monitored, and are therefore more likely to detect irregularities.
The devil’s claw from both conservancies is certified organic, which ensures that the product is fully traceable, sustainably harvested and processed according to internationally recognised standards.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.