Windhoek-Farmers in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) can breathe a sigh of relief following the announcement by government that the abattoirs at Oshakati and Katima Mulilo would resume operations by November.
The abattoirs at Oshakati and Katima Mulilo, that were initially operated by Meatco, shut down in 2016 due to high operational costs. Their closure had a negative effect on NCA farmers, who were consequently unable to market their livestock.
The abattoirs will now be run by private sector entities, with the Oshakati abattoir having been given to KIAT Investment Holdings, while the Katima Mulilo abattoir has been given to Zambezi Meat Corporation (ZAMCO) to operate.
The two companies were selected following an expression of interest to operate the abattoirs.
The call by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry resulted in the two companies being awarded the abattoirs on July 1, 2016.
Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa yesterday announced that government had found new operators for the two abattoirs and that this will ease the burden of farmers in the NCAs when it comes to marketing and selling their livestock.
Meatco at the time of the closures said it had spent about N$43 million during the 2014/15 financial year, which prompted it to instead introduce a mobile slaughter unit.
Agriculture permanent secretary Percy Misika said government needed N$8 million for the Oshakati slaughterhouse, while another N$6 million is needed for Katima Mulilo for maintenance purposes.
Misika said the funding would come from the European Development Fund, referring to an agreement signed recently between the European Union and the Namibian government.
He also said the recent disease outbreaks and the problem of free-roaming wild buffaloes in the NCAs are not helping Namibia to be declared disease-free in those areas by the World Animal Organisation (OIE) that require laborious steps.
He said although Namibia has entered into meat export agreements with various countries, China for example insists that the meat should come from Mouth and Feet Disease -free areas, as declared as such by the OIE, while Namibia is also still waiting on Zimbabwean veterinary officials to visit the country to inspect meat production facilities.
Further, he said the meat from the NCAs can be bought by government for schools, prisons and hospitals, among other public institutions.
Mutorwa said the myth that meat from the NCAs does not reach outside markets is unfounded.
“I still remember when we went to Cape Town with Meatco. The meat is slaughtered in Oshakati and Katima Mulilo. The carcasses are taken to Walvis Bay and shipped to South Africa. That meat reaches the factory in Cape Town.
“The whole cutting and value addition is done there and then the meat reaches top markets, such as Woolworths, and the prices that meat fetches is so high. Sometimes that meat reaches here and you are told that this meat is not from the NCAs,” he said.
“We should not live with the myth that we produce what we don’t consume and consume what we don’t produce. It’s now too long, 27 years after independence that things we produce – whether it’s a diamond, meat or fish or raw meat. When it comes back you are told it’s not your meat. It’s your meat,” Mutorwa emphasised.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has also directed Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) to manage the abattoirs on behalf of the government. AMTA managing director Lucas Lungameni has accepted responsibility for the management of the abattoirs.