Big Chief Vanishing Bull

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By Michael Liswaniso OPUWO The Meat Corporation of Namibia ( MEATCO) last Thursday held a slaughter cattle prize-giving ceremony in Opuwo where farmers sold quality cattle breeds at what has become a yearly event. The Kunene farmers beat other farmers from Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana, Oshikoto and Kavango who sell mainly to the abattoir at Oshakati. Kunene came out tops in both small farmers and big farmers categories. Small farmers were rated as those who slaughtered about 10 to 49 cattle with Meatco, while those who went beyond 50 were referred to as big farmers. The prize-giving ceremony was held at the Opuwo Auction Post, a mere four kilometres north of Opuwo. Residents of the region attended the ceremony in their hundreds. The farmers who came out tops in both categories were presented with Brahman bulls worth more than N$15ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 topped by certificates and small gifts, while those who came second were given packs of fodder, certificates and small gifts as well. In the big farmer’s category, Alfred Hungua received the first prize, followed by Simon Mulunga. Muhenge Ikengua scooped the first prize in the small category, followed by Humu Kivito. This is the fifth consecutive year that Kunene has scooped the similar prizes. All winners were given a chance to express their gratitude. They thanked Meatco for the support and promised to work very hard again next year so that they will once again scoop the similar prizes. “I am very thankful for what Meatco has given me today to improve my livestock. I will work very hard next year again to the extent where these fellow winners will not come near me again like they did this year,” said Hungua, the big category winner, jokingly. The Governor of Kunene, Dudu Murorua, who was also present at the event, thanked the farmers for achieving the awards and called on them to work still harder. “I thank you all for bringing the prizes to where they belong – here in Kunene. You have once again demonstrated that farming is in the blood here in Kunene,” said Murorua. Murorua, who was the keynote speaker, also thanked the government for bringing developments to the capital of the Opuwo Region, but in the same forefront he called on Meatco’s Management and the Board of Directors, in collaboration with government, to build an abattoir in Opuwo, given the positive farming trends in the region. “Building of an abattoir will avoid travelling distances and at the same time will avoid stress on the animals themselves,” the Governor said. He said travelling long distances was a major cause of stress to livestock which, he added, negatively affects their quality on the market. Murorua called on residents to resort to selling their animals to Meatco instead of to what he termed ‘middle men’, citing that Meatco was committed and reputable. “Agriculture is the backbone of the Namibian development. By strengthening farming, we will invite other stakeholders to come to Kunene and operate, and this will boost development,” noted Murorua. In his closing remarks, he thanked Meatco for its efforts to plough back into the communities and advised farmers to take care of their livestock and the bulls they received for their hard work. “Bulls do not discriminate when it comes to breeding. There is nothing like adultery,” closed Murorua. Meatco’s Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Albert Tjihero, said Meatco procures 60 percent of its slaughter cattle from Kunene, adding that cattle farming is one of the major money-generating sources of the region. “Meatco’s strategy is to empower our farmers and to assist them in doing business with their animals. The cattle population in the Kunene area is 122ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 647 as stated by the census of 2005. This year, the Oshakati abattoir will slaughter more or less 11ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 500 cattle, of which more or less 6ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 900 cattle are from the Kunene region, which gives the region a total income of N$18ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 003ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 894 for this year,” Tjihero noted. He said the region has the potential of generating an income of about N$76ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 804ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 298 per annum but, to do this, farmers need to have a relatively high reproduction and ensure that cows calve once a year with the right bulls. “From Meatco’s side, we are here to help support Vision 2030. It is therefore important that all role-players work together, and our joint activities must benefit our farmers and the region,” he stated. The cattle slaughter competition is an annual event which starts from September 1 until August 31 the following year, and farmers who slaughter more than 10 cattle with Meatco are part of the competition. The competition, according to Meatco, is to make sure that the consumers’ preferences are communicated to the farmers. With this information, farmers can produce their market needs. Tjihero stated that the Oshakati abattoir this year received an average of N$2ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 720 per animal in gross profit, whereas the winners received N$1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 718 more per cattle slaughtered at the abattoir. “It is therefore important for farmers to attend the Meatco farmers training and assembly days in the region to be informed and trained. For more information on the training days for 2007, our procurements offices can be contacted in the region. We first want to coordinate our training programme with all stakeholders involved, and then we will distribute it to the farmers at the end of November 2006,” Tjihero concluded. Meatco’s Chief Executive Officer, Kobus du Plessis, delivered a vote of thanks to all farmers for their support of his company. Also present at the event was Meatco’s Board Chairperson, Arne Gressmann. The Sunset Group, Kameru primary school choir and the Kandete Group spiced the occasion with their entertainment.