We Cannot Sit Idle Says Omaheke Farmers

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By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

WINDHOEK

The Omaheke communal farming community cannot sit idle while the issue of auctions with Agra and Karoo remains unresolved and is compelled to look for alternatives as livestock selling is their only source of income, said deputy chairperson of the Omaheke Regional Farmers Union (ORFU), Pieter Kazongominja, reacting to Agra’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Kazmeier.

Kazmeier yesterday responded to an article in New Era’s Monday issue on the termination of auctions by Agra and Karoo. In reaction to the proposed termination of auctions in the Omaheke communal areas, the communal community decided at a meeting of traditional leaders, regional councillors and farmers’ associations to also not sell their animals to the two auctioneers through permits. This meeting held on April 23 and 24 in Gobabis interested parties like the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Meat Corporation Namibia, among others, also attended.

Kazmeier yesterday responded that Agra is a proponent of auctions and does not advocate the selling of livestock through permits. He also expressed surprise at the communal farming community’s portrayal of Agra at a meeting in Gobabis on May 2 as anti-auctions. He was also surprised at the move by the Omaheke farming community to look for alternative auctioneers while the matter was under discussion.

However, Kazongominja says there has been ample consultation with Agra on the matter and the organisation was even represented by its Regional Manager for the Central Region, Chris Steenkamp, at the meeting which the communal farming community held on April 23 in Gobabis. He says Steenkamp clarified Agra’s position at that meeting, a position that Agra’s Senior Manager for Livestock, Pieter Hugo, contradicted pretending to be in favour of auctions.

He says in fact auctions scheduled for Aminuis (April 22-23), Eiseb on (April 14-15) and Otjinene (May 2-3) did not materialise with both Agra and Karoo saying they did not have buyers. He says Steenkamp put it to the Gobabis meeting that the high risk involved in transporting money to the communal areas in Omaheke and that this necessitated that money could not be transport like in the past. At the same meeting Steenkamp also raised the issue of means of payment assuming the same position as the Livestock Auctioneers, Brokers and Traders Association (LABTA)’s that hitherto money at auctions shall be paid out after the sale of each lot. He also touched on the issue of debtors introducing the new Agra policy effective April 1, 2008 that debtors shall only be given seven days in which to honour their debts.

The farming community also learnt there and then without prior consultation that Agra had scheduled auctions in the Omaheke communal areas only in Otjinene, Corridor 13, Onderombapa and Aminuis.

Kazongominja says with all these issues outstanding he cannot understand when the farmers have to wait for Agra and Karoo to attend to them.

Meanwhile, the farming community is due to re-convenene in Gobabis this morning for their third successive meeting since the action debacle surfaced about three weeks ago. At this meeting auctioneers, Hammer and Tongue that have been approached to fill in the role of auctioneers, are to field questions from the farming community, among others, as to in what way they propose to be a better alternative from auctioneers like Agra and Karoo.

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