Speak with one Voice, Farmers Urged

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By William Mbangula Onankali The Meat Board of Namibia (MBN) is currently busy establishing marketing committees in the northern regions as part of a strategy to ensure proper coordination of livestock sales in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA). The first meeting between the MBN and the communal farmers in Oshikoto Region was held last Thursday at Onankali Agriculture Development Centre. This was followed by a similar one in Ohangwena on Friday. More meetings will be held in Oshana on July 26 and in Omusati on July 31. The MBN Chief Marketing Officer Goliath Tujendapi said the initiative was prompted by the lack of coordination with regard to sales of livestock from the concerned regions. For the said reason, MBN decided to come up with an initiative to approach the farmers in order to pass on knowledge and advise them on how they should act in unison in doing business. “The farmers are scattered, not organised and are without any proper facilitation and coordination so much so that the sale of their animals is not done for their benefit as primary producers. They need a mouthpiece which will act on their behalf,” said Tujendapi. Addressing the farmers at Onankali, Tujendapi told them to speak with one voice when it comes to the sale of their animals. “You need to have a vision in this regard. I wish to urge you to put aside all your personal differences and act as one person. If you are not united, you are not going to be successful because instead of fighting poverty among yourselves, you may contribute to its existence by disagreeing among yourselves. Cooperation is the only way you can be successful in your business. I wish to advise you to always think big but act small.” Tujendapi also urged the farmers to change their way of farming so that they can get different results from their animals. He reminded them about the saying: “Do the same thing the same way and you get the same results. Change the way you are dong it and get different results.” According to the MBN marketing manager, the committees in the regions will have many responsibilities which will be performed for the benefit and interests of the concerned communal farmers. Such responsibilities include training and informing producers on market related issues; setting up sound and successful business action plans which will include pricing and off-take strategies; ensuring that the farming community meets consumer demands; identifying and addressing common and specific farmers’ problems or hindering factors with regard to marketing; and liaising with the government and the Meat Board. The committees are expected to come from farmers’ cooperatives and constituencies in the regions, which will form one regional committee for each region. Such a body will be affiliated to the national marketing committee, which will have regular contacts with MBN and the government. At the meeting farmers raised concerns over the poor rating of their animals which results in poor prices being paid mainly by Meatco, as well as high costs from and to the quarantine camps. They were also concerned about what they consider to be Meatco’s monopoly over the purchase of their animals at the Oshakati abattoir. Dissatisfaction with the low prices has partly contributed to the inactivity of the only auction point in Oshikoto region at Onyuulaye, where some farmers are no longer interested to take their animals. Tujendapi advised them that the only way to get out of their dilemma is to form committees, which will represent their concerns and aspirations. With regard to the alleged monopoly of Meatco, he advised them that there is another way of doing business without going through the meat processing company at Oshakati. The meeting was attended by farmers mainly from Mangetti farming area, the councillors of Okankolo and Eengodi, traditional leaders, agriculture extension and veterinary services officials.