The two hard-hitting droughts have brought about devastating conditions for farmers in Namibia. Consequently, Meatco has strategised to mitigate these effects and to ensure a consistent flow through the supply chain, says Meatco CEO, Adv Vekuii Rukoro.
“The vital role played by the backward integration strategies was supported by the fact that in 2015/16 Meatco slaughtered 116 948 cattle, of which 32.4% came from our own feedlots and the Meatco Owned Cattle (MOC) initiative, while 67.5% of the cattle came from producers,” he notes.
In expanding the backward integration strategy, Meatco received an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for the Annesruh feedlot in the Omaheke Region. The (EIA) Certificate clears Meatco to operate at the feedlot located 15 km west of Gobabis.
Primarily due to a crippling water situation, Meatco’s Okahandja abattoir has remained closed since the beginning of the year. “Low cattle numbers and the water levels added to the decision to move operations to Windhoek due to its higher slaughter capacity,” Rukoro says.
Meanwhile Meatco is achieving 30% water savings due to consistent saving initiatives at the Windhoek abattoir that allows for greater efficiency for the business across the board.
He also announced that Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa is in the process of taking a Bill to Parliament concerning the Meat Industry Act, 1981. Meatco will only have the opportunity to weigh in on the Bill once it has been tabled in Parliament.
After halting farmers’ committee meetings, Meatco reinstated them in a new format. Since then Meatco has hosted successful meetings in Okahandja and Gobabis. However, the organisation has an open-door policy for consultations and discussions with producers.
Communal farmers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) raised questions as to their value in the business by virtue of membership. As per the Meatco Act of 2001, Section 14, all producers who have delivered at least one animal for slaughter directly to Meatco in the past two years, qualify for membership.
Furthermore, they are encouraged to follow up through the organised agricultural leadership of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) that can effectively represent the farmers through the proper channels.
Rukoro reiterated the company’s position to serve the producers wherever they find themselves in the country and informed members that the new MSU has arrived in Namibia, making it possible for communal farmers, especially in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), to start marketing their livestock.
Producers wanted to know when the buying of cattle in the NCAs – particularly in the Kunene Region – would begin, to which Rukoro replied that it does not depend on the Mobile Slaughter Units, but would begin once the proper arrangements between Meatco and the ministry have been made.