New Scheme to Benefit Small Farmers

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Marketing Manager of the Meat Board of Namibia Sikunawa Negumbo has welcomed Government’s decision that put an end to the auctio-neering by livestock development centres in the communal areas. The decision grants approval that the auctio of surplus livestock breeding material may continue outside communal areas. The Namibian cabinet also granted permission for the selling of breeding material at “Government Book Value” directly to pre-selected small-scale communal farmers in the communal areas who cannot afford to buy livestock at auctions. Negumbo said this endeavour would lead to the improvement of Namibia’s meat and make it more competitive on the international market. In a media release, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that livestock production plays an important role in the lives of Namibia’s communal farmers and the genetic improvement of the locally adapted animals will improve production per unit area and increase the income of communal farmers. The ministry claims that the increasing human and animal population in the communal areas places tremendous pressure on the natural resource base. “The indigenous livestock found in the communal areas are well adapted to the harsh climatic conditions of high ambient temperature, low and variable rainfall and scarce grazing and through natural selection, the animals have adapted to the production environment.” The ministry added that the initiative would assist small-scale farmers as breeding material from the livestock development centres, research stations and agricultural colleges under the ministry will be marketed directly to small-scale communal livestock farmers in the communal areas. “If farmers do not have the financial resources to pay for the new bull, ram, or pig, they will be allowed to exchange one of their own animals to acquire the new animal and the exchanged animal will be slaughtered through Meatco and the fund will be paid into the State account.” The Directorate of Agricultural Research and Training is involved in a joint venture programme with the Meat Board and Namibia Stud Breeders Association, through which communal farmers can buy bulls of certain breeds at subsidised prices. However, the ministry claims that it is only the wealthiest farmers who can afford to pay the prices asked by stud breeders. “Currently due to the prices requested by breeders, the bull scheme can only be between 60-70 per year.” The Directorate of Agricultural Research and Training is currently developing four livestock development centres in the Northern Communal Areas, namely at Sachinga in the Caprivi Region, Mile 46 in the Okavango Region, Okapya in the Oshikoto region and Oshaambelo in the Omusati Region. Livestock will be distributed to pre-selected livestock producers through the centres and breeding material can be replenished from other livestock development centres at Sonop, Uitkomst, Omatjenne, Okomumbonde, Tsumkwe, Sandveld, Kalahari and Gellap-Ost to provide sufficient animals to farmers.