By Mbatjiua Ngavirue Windhoek A successful auction of karakul breeding rams and ewes was held for communal farmers in Gibeon Tuesday last week. All 30 rams and most of the 54 ewes on offer were sold, with the highest priced ram fetching N$5 000. The rams fetched an average price of N$2 500, while the ewes averaged N$670 each. Gert van Wyk, Senior Livestock Officer (Stud Services) at Agra said the Gibeon auction was well attended, with buyers happy to have the opportunity of buying prime breeding stock locally. He said it was far more convenient for Gibeon farmers to buy animals at a local auction than having to travel to Keetmanshoop or Karasburg where auctions were normally held. The animals on auction were from top karakul breeders Raimar von Hase and Rynold Schreiber. This was the fourth annual auction Von Hase and Schreiber have held in Gibeon, and according to Von Hase, they have seen a rise in prices each year. “The overwhelmingly positive response to the auctions from Gibeon farmers has encouraged us to continue holding annual auctions,” Von Hase said. They originally developed the idea of holding auctions in Gibeon based on their assessment that the area had good potential for Karakul farming. The idea became financially viable following the Karakul Board’s decision six years ago to give communal farmers a subsidy of N$600 per ram and N$100 for each ewe purchased. The aim of the subsidies was to raise the quality of communal farmers’ breeding stock, allowing them to participate more effectively in the industry and contribute to Namibia’s karakul pelt exports. According to Von Hase, recent increases in karakul pelt prices made the karakul sector very attractive for communal farmers. Pelt prices doubled in the last two years, making it once again profitable to farm with karakul. He said southern Namibia as a whole is eminently suited for karakul farming. The harsh dry climate in the south makes the region unsuitable for cattle farming and karakul sheep does not cause the same damage to the environment as goats. Karakul sheep are also ideal for communal farmers because of their strong herding instinct, which makes the sheep keep together, making them easier to manage.
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