Despite numerous attempts since 2013 to unify the annual Gobabis Show and the Omaheke Trade Fair in the Omaheke region, and the 2015 Okamatapati /Otjiwarongo Shows in the Otjozondupahe region, unification remains dreams with the four events again being staged separately this year.
Once again, the expected unification did not materialise this year, even after various calls from role players and stakeholders in the industry to end working in fragmented ways by staging separate shows/trade fairs. Last year’s separate events proved to be less popular than previous years and in both cases failed to provide the expected economic income and spin-offs from the shows.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Meatco, Adv. Vekuii Rukoro, last year rapped show and trade fair societies over the knuckles for operating in increasingly fragmented ways, saying such actions do not promote the interests of the communities in the regions.
Last week the Okamatapati Industrial and Agricultural Show, hosted by the Ongombe Farmers Association (OFA), took place in Windhoek and the Otjiwarongo Show will take place later this month. In both cases, the possibility of mergers in the future are still on the table, but not this year. Governor of the Omaheke region, Festus Ueitele, told Farmers Forum in an exclusive interview that the idea of merging the Gobabis Show and the Omaheke Trade Fair is not dead, and that talks between the two parties will continue.
Rukoro says divided interests not only duplicate efforts and stretches resources that are already limited, but also diminish the impact of each individual group. He is urging communities and farming groups to work together in order to achieve much more.
He says corporates are not interested in promoting separate and individual interests of subgroups in the community, especially groups in the same town or farming area. “This fragmented way of working forces corporates like Meatco to divide whatever little resources we have among many competing subgroups within the same community or region, thus reducing the ultimate impact of such support in the final analysis. Even though shows and trade fairs have increased at a rapid rate, the events budget of corporates like Meatco only experience a modest increase,” he notes.
Rukoro says after 25 years of independence as a united country, Namibians don’t want to perpetuate the fragmentation of the meat industry into communal farmers, emerging farmers and commercial farmers. “We want to talk about unified Namibian farmers, who are merely at different stages of the same journey,” he stressed.
The mergers will tap into the full potential of farmers in all sectors from Rietfontein, Okamatapati, Aminuis, Epikiru, Okakarara and anywhere else in the regions of Otjozondjupa and Omaheke, while the Otjiwarongo Show Society and the Gobabis Show Society will make sure the vast commercial resources in the areas are brought to the party. Ueitele says he also blames insufficient marketing for the decline in interest at this year’s event.
“If we combine all these shows, we will save farmers a lot of money on transport costs and we will attract much bigger crowds,” he says.