Meatco gearing to slaughter 120 000 animals as fears of drought mount

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WINDHOEK –  Meatco is preparing itself for running both the Windhoek and Okahandja abattoirs simultaneously if the need for extra capacity arises. Together the factories are geared to slaughter in the region of 120 000 cattle.

Says Meatco’s Communications and Marketing Manager, Mario Poolman.

Producers are very concerned about the low levels of rains received this year and the Livestock Producers Association has already declared a state of emergency in the industry.

The drought of 2013 thinned out grazing across Namibia considerably and after one of the most erratic rainfall seasons ever, grazing has reached worrying levels countrywide. Very soon the season for grass growth will have passed and even if some rains still follow, it will not have the desired effect. For many the growing opportunity for grass has already passed. Many farmers have also not completely recovered from the drought of 2013. This is the view of Mario Poolman, Manager of Communications and Marketing at Meatco.

Poolman says soon there will be no grazing, and producers will be forced to sell their cattle at a rapid rate.

“Drought conditions usually result in an increase in animals being marketed and more meat in the country where the drought is occurring. Where this is a particular concern is in our South African market, where we market more than 40% of our product. The reason for concern is that South Africa is also experiencing drought conditions, which means SA producers will also be forced to market their cattle. This will lead to a major increase of beef in the South African market pushing prices down, affecting more than 40% our sales,” he notes.

Poolman cites another threat of Namibian producers selling their animals in large numbers to the South African market out of desperation as was the case in 2013. “We all know this was one of the major factors that resulted in South Africa closing their borders for Namibian cattle imports and later re-opening them again. If Namibians flood the South African market this year the same thing may happen again.”Although there is some feedback of producers receiving rain, the general message from the veldt is that the rains are not enough. Farmers have even stated that the situation is worse than the 2013 drought because there is less grazing available this time around than was back then.

“The industry has met through the Livestock Producers’ Forum, on how to handle the situation should an official drought situation be declared. They have discussed many options for marketing of animals during drought conditions and have resolved to take it up with the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry,” Poolman concludes.

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