By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Faced with a shortage of cattle at its abattoirs at a time when it wants to increase exports to South Africa, Meatco has increased producer prices of four grades of meat as an incentive for producers to market their animals. The producer prices for A2-4 and AB2-4 have been increased by six percent, which amounts to 96 cents per kg, while the grade B2-4 has gone up by seven percent to the tune of N$1.03 per kg. In the other grade, C2-4, producers will earn 28 cents more per kg after the producer price was increased by two percent. Although the number of slaughterable cattle during December to February is low, this year has seen even lower numbers of animals being brought forward for slaughter. Uschi Ramakutla, Meatco’s Corporate Communications Manager said yesterday the numbers of livestock this year are even lower than in previous years. As low as 850 cattle are being delivered per week, unlike other low periods when about 1 250 cattle per week would be slaughtered per week. Production figures go as high as 3 000 heads of cattle per week during the peak period from March to end July/August. It seems that the good rains this year have not had enough motivation for producers to sell their animals because, said Ramakutla, producers are still keeping their animals to fatten them before taking them to Meatco for slaughter. Meatco has a built-in incentive for producers who deliver the right quality cattle at the right time, the communications manager said. At the same time, due to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Argentina, where South Africa imports most of its beef, an opportunity opened up for Namibia’s meat exporter to increase its sales into the South African market. Apart from Argentina, South Africa also imports most of its beef from Brazil. “To this end, Meatco needs a product to market and therefore, it decided to increase its producer prices to lure producers in marketing cattle to it and thereby, use the opportunity of low product availability in the market opened up by the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in Argentina,” said Ramakutla. Meatco usually exports between 55 and 66 percent of its annual production to South Africa, but it is yet to increase its exports because it is awaiting feedback from producers. “We have just increased the producer prices recently and we are waiting for a response. It takes a week or two,” she said. The Okahandja abattoir opened today for operations and as always, producers have to book in advance to have their animals slaughtered at Meatco, but that has not been done yet. The abattoir closed for maintenance and also to limit the costs to the group. This time, market ready cattle are channelled to one commercial plan to optimize it being open, she added.
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