Mobile unit benefits 222 farmers

Animals valued at N$22m purchase by Meatco north of Red Line

27 June 2019 | Agriculture

Animals valued at N$22.6 million were purchased in areas north of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF) since the inception of Meatco's mobile slaughtering unit (MSU) in 2016.

This has benefited 222 farmers with an average price of N$6 460 per animal paid.

The MSU slaughtered 1 521 animals in 2018/19 compared to the 896 slaughtered the previous year.

With a slaughter throughput of between 20 and 25 cattle per day, the MSU slaughtered a mere 746 animals in 2016/17.

According to Meatco's annual report for 2018/19 the carcasses were transported to Meatco's Bonanza outlet in Oshakati for processing for the local market.

Meatco also procured 353 live animals and exported them to Angola, due to the limited marketing opportunities in areas north of the VCF.

“The areas north of the veterinary cordon fence has always been a tough market due to the veterinary cordon fence, which means that marketing opportunities in the area remain limited because meat from this area cannot be exported,” the report said.

The limited market has a bearing on the efficient operations of the MSU, in that fewer cattle are slaughtered compared to budget.

However, more local farmers have expressed their interest in selling their cattle to Meatco.

Cattle slaughtered at the MSU are marketed as carcasses or are value-added into beef cuts, beef stew and some fresh beef products. Offal products are sold directly to the Kavango Marketing Cooperative, with the help of the Meatco Foundation.

The cooperative then repackages the offal products and sells them to the local market, which is an income-generating activity that enhances the cooperative's capacity.

According to the report areas north of the VCF comprise 43% of Namibia's total area and support approximately 60% of its population.

Of the 2.7 million cattle in Namibia, 1.7 million are found in the areas north of the VCF.

“Overall, subsistence farming remains the main source of income for 22.4% of rural communities (representing nearly 60 000 households), with approximately 40% of households in the Omusati Region and just over 20% in the Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions that are dependent on subsistence farming,” says the report.

It says that marketing of cattle from areas north of the VCF has been a challenge for many years, and the source of substantial losses for Meatco, when the corporation was still responsible for the three abattoirs there.

In 2016/17, Meatco relinquished the operation of the abattoirs to the agriculture ministry and introduced the MSU as a more cost-effective slaughtering alternative. While the MSU slaughtered 1 521 cattle sourced from 120 farmers during the reporting year, it is still underutilised.

ELLANIE SMIT