Sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems transformation

Namibian bioeconomy cooperative leader chosen as FAO Food Hero


The manager of a women’s cooperative in Namibia that harvests and processes the nuts of the marula tree has been chosen as an FAO Food Hero for World Food Day 2022. Martha Negumbo, of the Eudafano Women’s Cooperative (EWC), stressed the importance of the work that the EWC does in strengthening food security while supporting the advancement of rural women.

Marula is a traditional staple in Namibian homes where both the tree’s fruit and nut are renowned for their beneficial properties. Marula oil contains more antioxidants than argan or olive oil, making it one of the most stable natural oils in the world.

The EWC, which boasts around 2 500 members, produces both food and non-food products from marula, in particular cosmetics, which it sells to leading international brands such as the Body Shop. It uses circular bioeconomy principles to create equitable and green employment opportunities while bolstering food security and nutrition, in line with Namibia’s new National Bioeconomy Strategy 2023 – 2028.

FAO, through its “Towards Sustainable Bioeconomy Guidelines” project, has played a key role in supporting Namibia’s National Commission for Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) in developing the bioeconomy strategy, also co-hosting a final validation meeting on its contents in June 2022. The strategy focuses on innovation, conservation, and the sustainable utilization of local biological resources, reinforcing the importance of bioeconomy as a driver of inclusive and circular development.

As Martha Negumbo says, “it’s important we continue to learn about precious natural resources like marula and how to conserve them”. The EWC is a perfect example of an organization that can act as a catalyst for the widespread adoption of the very practices being promoted through Namibia’s new bioeconomy strategy.

Read Martha’s story here.

Read more about Namibia’s bioeconomy strategy here.

Photo: Martha Negumbo (Courtesy of Martha Negumbo)


FAO Sustainable and Circular Bioeconomy

FAO Namibia

World Food Day 2022


Aspirational principles and criteria for a sustainable bioeconomy