Mobile Slaughtering Unit operates at loss

Marketing cattle north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence has been a challenge for many years as the carcasses cannot be sold south of the fence.

01 July 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Meatco’s Mobile Slaughtering Unit (MSU) slaughtered 1 257 cattle during the 2020/2021 financial year, which is slightly more than the 1 136 slaughtered the previous year.

However, Meatco says that the MSU operated at a loss and drastic measures need to be taken to correct the situation.

This includes the operationalisation of the Rundu abattoir to be able to increase market share and enhance prime-cut sales through the commodity-based trade approach, which cannot be achieved at the MSU at this stage.

According to Meatco’s 2020/2021 Annual Report, the MSU has a daily slaughtering capacity of between 20 and 25 cattle.

Challenges

Meatco says that marketing cattle north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) has been a challenge for many years as the carcasses cannot be sold south of the VCF.

“Producers north of the VCF therefore continue to miss out on the more lucrative export markets, especially for hindquarter cuts.”

The MSU was introduced as an alternative to the three abattoirs north of the VCF, namely Oshakati, Rundu and Katima Mulilo.

However, following a cabinet directive Meatco decided to re-enter the market north of VCF to assist farmers and to reopen the Rundu and Katima Mulilo abattoirs. The Oshakati abattoir was taken over by new private-sector operators.

“When Meatco decided to go back to the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), we developed a strategy for entering and operating in the NCAs. It was clear that a new way of doing business in the NCAs had to be found.”

A separate affiliate, Meatco NCA, was therefore established with the aim of ensuring the NCAs can operate in a sustainable manner and that funds generated in the NCAs can remain available for the benefit of the NCA producers.

Currently, the MSU operates under Meatco NCA.

According to Meatco the MSU had a successful year, due to various strategies put into place.

It says that the weight, grade and fat content have of cattle slaughtered at the MSU have also improved in the reporting year.

The average live weight increased from 373 kg to 420 kg and carcass weight from 190 kg to 210 kg.

In terms of grading, in the past nearly 60% was “C”-grade, while in the reporting year nearly 5% was “A”-grade, 17% was “AB”-grade, while 38% was “B”-grade with only 40% “C”- grade.

LOOKING AHEAD

Moving forward, Meatco says that strategies are in place to open the African and international markets for NCA cattle.

“We have already engaged with African countries such as Ghana, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, while exploring the Kuwait market as well. These markets can accept meat from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) infected areas.”

The grazing in NCAs has also improved and it is expected that more cattle will be available for slaughtering than in the current financial year.

“While low cattle numbers are expected to be available SVCF in the coming year, meat from Meatco NCA can fill the gap in the local market.”

The areas north of the VCF of Namibia comprise 43% of Namibia’s total area. Of the 2.7 million cattle in Namibia, more than 60% are found north of the VCF.

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