By Desie Heita
Agra said it is a proponent of auctions and does not advocate for the selling of livestock through permits. Moreover, contrary to the current perception among the Omaheke communal farmers, Agra said it has not boycotted the communal farmers of Omaheke.
Agra was responding to last weekend’s meeting by communal farmers in Omaheke, at which the farmers reaffirmed their resolve to only market their livestock through auctions by auctioneers other than Agra and Karoo.
The communal farmers are dissatisfied with the prices their livestock are fetching and have decided to approach a different auctioneering company for business.
The Chief Executive Officer of Agra, Peter Kazmaier, said Agra is trying to resolve various problems with communal farmers’ associations including the request for a higher commission than the cost of conducting an auction, as well as the request from farmers to hold auctions at short notice.
The latter seems to have led farmers to understand that Agra does not want to do business with them. These sentiments were clearly echoed in the meeting held on Friday, where the Omaheke farmers took a firm stand against anything that resembles daylight robbery, price fixing and the monopolisation of the buying process.
Agra said it was already engaged in dialogue with communal farmers, through the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), on the issues facing Omaheke communal farmers. Kazmaier said the last meeting took place on April 29 and a follow-up meeting was scheduled for either May 7 or 9.
“Suddenly this happens,” Kazmaier said, referring to the resolve taken by Omaheke communal farmers.
The Senior Manager for Livestock at Agra, Pieter Hugo, said the Livestock Auctioneers, Brokers, and Traders Association (LABTA), has adopted new procedures for auctions in eastern communal areas with effect from May 1.
These procedures are that payments are to be done for each lot sold directly after the sale of a lot, before auctioning the next lot. From now on payment is made to the association, which will in turn pay the sellers.
A commission of 1 percent is to be paid to the association for an auction of cattle less than 300. For the auction of cattle slightly more than 300, a commission of 1.5 percent is to be paid. This is because of high costs involved in conducting auctions for smaller numbers. The commission generated from such auctions is very small, said Hugo.
Hugo said these were some of the items for discussions between the farmers and Agra in meetings that are supposed to take place this week.
“It is extremely unfortunate that Agra was not allowed to be present at the meeting [of May 2 in Omaheke] to reply to allegations made about its business practice. Conflict will never be resolved if the parties do not engage in dialogue. Unfounded statements made at such meetings only increase tension and conflict without taking into account the views and positions of all parties,” said Kazmaier.
He said Agra is not part of any price-fixing practice or price manipulation.
“Our income is based on a commission fee which we earn for providing auctioneering and other services. The seller of animals pays this commission.
Normal logic therefore dictates the higher the price that the seller obtains the higher the commission Agra earns. How can we be accused of manipulating prices downward, when that would diminish our income,” said Kazmaier.
Kazmaier was at pains to point out that Agra is an organisation owned by about 7??????’??