By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Stock farmers at Spitzkoppe and Okombahe recently held a successful livestock auction where they sold quality cattle and goats. These communities have been unable to hold auctions in 30 years. Operating under the Omkaibasen Community Farmers Cooperative and with cooperation from Agra, the communal farmers were delighted at the positive outcome of the first ever auction held by the community itself. The auction was held at Samatab Noord No 115, some 30 km northwest of Usakos in the Erongo Region. The event is seen as empowerment for local communal farmers in the Spitzkoppe area who at the end of the auction had made over N$360 000. “We are quite excited. We managed to exceed the target on livestock sales that we have set,” said the Acting Marketing Coordinator of the Cooperative Isak !=Ouseb. The communal farmers sold 63 cattle for N$180 430; 331 goats for N$111 415 and 239 sheep for N$70 995. With such a good start, and through cooperation with Agra, plans are underway to stage similar auctions in the district, which would help to improve the living standards of the general community. The next community auction at the same venue is scheduled for September 25. Secretary of the Omkaibasen Community Farmers Cooperative George Karunga said due to the good rainfall experienced this year, livestock farmers have been content. Consequently, the quality of the livestock impressed everyone at the auction. “The buyers were very impressed and with the good rains animal stocks have also picked up,” said Karunga, adding that most of the livestock were sold at market related prices based on weight and quality. Word that went round was that some of the commercial farmers from the same area could not stop talking about the good quality of the livestock, which further inspired the community to better the output in future. “We realised we can stand together as a community to auction our animals and pick up the market related prices that all the farmers were happy about instead of relying on speculatory prices,” added Karunga. Because the community never had a place to sell their livestock, “speculators” set up their own prices for livestock, which were not in line with the current market value. However, with regular auctions it is anticipated that the situation will change for the benefit of communal farmers. Meanwhile, one of the biggest challenges faced by farmers is the new ear tag system introduced by the Meat Board of Namibia. According to the members of the cooperative, farmers are not well versed with the new system and are unable to sell their cattle. It takes about eight weeks for the ear tags to be delivered. This, the farmers say, is too long. Another challenge is that of the poor condition of auction kraals that have for long not been in use. Poles have rusted, some gates have been removed and the kraals have deteriorated over the years. “However, we will liaise with relevant stakeholders to assist with the renovation so that our communities can conduct their business in conducive environment, said !=Ouseb. In order to address the needs of rural communities in terms of quality livestock, the cooperative will hold its own production auction next Friday on May 26, 2006 at Daweb West No. 62, situated some 30 km northwest of Usakos. At the auction, there will be different rams on sale. The rams are considered a determining factor for producing quality breeds.
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