New Company for Small Farmers

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Small stock producers and farmers in the country are encouraged to take up shares in the recently established Namibia Allied Meat Company (Namco). This is part of the ongoing drive by the company to assist small farmers. The move will not only give small stock farmers the opportunity to own and have a say in the company’s operations, but will also earn dividends on their shares. Newly appointed Chairperson of Namco, Philip Stoffberg, informed New Era that there is a need for farmers to venture into buying shares to get greater output on their business. Stoffberg, who has been in his position for a few weeks, said that for a long time small stock producers have been working in a fragmented way where each one sells and exports produce to different abattoirs inside and outside the country. “The challenge now is to get all the small stock producers under one umbrella in order to work together. These are still early pioneering days for Namco, but I am optimistic that this is a growing sector,” said Stoffberg. It turns out that local small stock farmers in the country still cannot receive a fair price for their produce due to stiff competition in the market. However, through Namco, farmers in the industry can be assured of a fair price at the end of the day. With the ongoing campaign, local farmers dealing in small stock are called upon to take up shares in the company. As a company, Namco was established early this year by three producer groups, namely, Just Lamb Trading, Karas Meat Company (KMC) and Nam-X. Under Namco, Karas Abattoir Tannery owns 20 percent of the shares, Meatco another 20 percent and the majority shareholding of 60 percent goes to the farmers under Namco Holdings. This is viewed as a smart partnership between producers and slaughter facilities in the country and the marketing arm. Namco strives to give small stock farmers the opportunity to have a negotiation power when it comes to bargaining the price of their animals. “Over the years, producers’ share of the consumer dollar has declined and producers don’t have the power to dictate the price,” said Stoffberg. Hence, the chairman’s desire to develop a strategic plan in line with corporate governance that would ultimately assist small stock producers to drive Black Economic Empowerment projects through Namco. Because there is a shortage of small stock due to persistent droughts, the numbers of stock sent to the two main abattoirs for slaughter, namely, Windhoek and Keetmanshoop, has declined. At the Keetmanshoop abattoir, 1 800 animals are slaughtered, while 1 200 are slaughtered at the Windhoek plant. Collectively, this stands at 3 000 animals slaughtered at both abattoirs. However, the supply does not meet the demand, according to Stoffberg. “What has happened is that due to good rains, farmers have held back their ewes and only sold the rams to build up their herds. Therefore, the supply cannot meet the demand. So the rains mean that it creates a short-term negative, but a long term positive as there will be more animals to slaughter in the near future,” explained the chairman. He is optimistic that this scenario will change during the lamb season when the numbers of the herds will increase. Because these are still pioneering days for the company, a lot of emphasis will be placed on value addition with regard to the more than 80 percent of carcases exported to South Africa and 15 percent sold locally. For now stipulations are that for any two slaughtered animals, one can be sold live in South Africa. On September 1st this year this regulation will change to every six slaughtered animals for live export in line with value addition.