Agra Records Good Year

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Agra Cooperative has recorded big achievements since the last financial year until now. Karakul pelts at the recent auction in Copenhagen sold at record levels, while weaner auctions, which ended in August, also achieved a record. Agra also exceeded its budgeted profit targets by 22 percent during the course of last year. In addition to this, the company has obtained exclusive distribution rights on the Jatropha seed with which Namibia is conducting trials to produce oil as a fuel blend or as an alternative to fossil fuels. Agra Chief Executive Officer, Peter Kazmaier, shared these achievements with invitees and the public that gathered to witness the opening of Agra’s newly refurbished branch in Windhoek. The average price of weaners continued on the uphill trend with the average price this year getting close to hitting the N$3 000 mark. Weaner auctions on the one hand saw prices jumping up to N$16.35 per kg, with some 7 Agra weaner auctions of about 7 200 weaners have netted in N$21.3 million, while the nine remaining auctions were expected to bring in another N$12 million. Prices of weaners at an auction in Gobabis, where 1 800 calves were auctioned, jumped to over N$16 per kg while at preceding auctions in Outjo, Otjiwarongo, Rehoboth and Grootfontein, the calves were sold for around N$15.50 per kg. Compared to last year, this year’s average price represents an increase in prices of 55 percent. Agra expected the price of the remaining weaners, which was scheduled for last month to be N$2 940 per head, compared to N$1 890, which was obtained in 2005. On the other hand, Namibia’s Swakara pelts fetched high prices on the international market. At the second Karakul auction in Copenhagen, where Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Dr Nickey Iyambo was in attendance, some Swakara pelts were bought for over N$700, the highest price that has ever been paid. Over 52 100 Swakara pelts were on offer, compared to 56 672 during the previous auction. The average price for the pelts that were sold last week was N$494.04, which reflects an increase of 21.07 percent compared with N$408.05 of the previous auction. The offer consisted of 42 170 black, 5 443 grey, 2 860 white, 113 brown and 1 601 miscellaneous pelts. Last week, Namibia landed the very first consignment of Jatropha seed that will be planted in the maize triangle as well as the Kavango and Caprivi regions, which receive between 450 and 500 mm of rainfall per year. Among other things that Agra has done to “get its house in order” according to Kazmaier, are the upgrading of control systems and internal audit functions, the discontinuation or turning around of non-profitable business units, improved communication, the implementation of a new computer system and an improved customer service strategy. Iyambo, who officiated at the re-opening of the branch last week, said farming, which is a career that demands dedication and hard work, was not appealing to the younger generation who would rather search for easier lives in urban areas. He commended the cooperative for becoming a Namibian business that is committed to making a real contribution towards the country’s development. Agra was founded in 1980 and has about 7 000 Namibian shareholders.