Meatco concludes second round of meetings
13 August 2020 | Agriculture
Meatco's new board and management team have concluded their second round of stakeholder engagements.
The purpose of the farmer liaison meetings, under the theme 'Restoring Trust and Building Relationships', was for Meatco to hear farmers' views about the future of the business and map a collective way forward. In attendance at the last meeting was Otjozondjupa regional governor James Uerikua, who said that the agricultural sector employed 60% to 70% of the population and, therefore, agriculture is truly the backbone of the Namibian economy.
He added that farmers are facing water challenges and programmes on water infrastructure development would be of great assistance.
“Meatco's new leadership should truly begin to treat all producers the same regardless of where they find themselves in Namibia. With the positive agro-logical advantages that the Otjozondjupa Region is richly blessed with, the farmers would like to work together with Meatco,” said Uerikua.
One of the top communal producers, Fred Kazombiaze, who farms in the Okamatapati area, said he had noticed a major improvement in Meatco's efforts to reach out to farmers.
“In the beginning, it used to be challenging because we could not be paid on time, but now we have made peace with it. We know that once funds are paid out, we should not hastily spend the money, but rather properly invest it.
“There was a general understanding from the meeting that an improvement in payment terms will be seen and communal farmers greatly welcomed this because we are operating under immense pressure,” said Kazombiaze.
Another farmer, Tjeripo Tjikuua, expressed concern about Meatco's throughput and the belief that there are no cattle ready for slaughter. He said that was not a true reflection, as Meatco was the one that was not consistently purchasing from communal areas.
“In fact, Meatco should ideally indicate how much it can spend on purchases from communal areas annually. The relationship between Meatco and communal farmers has drifted. Therefore, it is important to come together and strengthen the ties, and keep up consistency,” said Tjikuua.
Meatco board chairperson Johnnie Hamman said it was important to hold hands as equal stakeholders in the industry to lead Meatco to better days. “It's not an easy task and definitely not one Meatco can achieve on its own, but through concerted efforts from Meatco, government, farmers, farmers' associations, unions and relevant stakeholders it is possible to get Meatco to where it was,” said Hamman.
The first round of meetings were held at Windhoek, Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Grootfontein and Gobabis, with the second round catering to farmers at Otjinene, Aminuis, Okakarara, Coblenz and the surrounding areas.