Traditional group opposes donkey abattoir

31 August 2017 | Agriculture

The Donkib Ge cultural group, organisers of the annual donkey meat festival, have asked the government to reconsider a proposal by a Chinese interest group to establish a donkey abattoir in Namibia.

The cultural group, through its project manager Abner Xoagub, said Namibia does not have enough donkeys to justify an abattoir.

“Namibia's donkey population is around 200 000 and a formal national count needs to be done. The fact is that we do not have any legal framework protecting or facilitating registration and protection of donkeys in Namibia,” said Xoagub.

It would be risky and counterproductive for the agricultural sector to allow such an abattoir or mass harvesting of donkeys, he said.

The group also argued that China's donkey population had plummeted because no precautions were taken.

“The problem is that China's donkey population has plummeted since 1990, from 11 million to around 6 million, largely because of intensive farming to cater for meat and skin products,” said Xoagub.

He also said that no studies had been conducted to support the viability of a donkey abattoir.

“No feasibility or sustainability studies have been conducted to assess the long-term viability of the commercial farming of a new species of domesticated livestock donkey,” said Xoagub.

According to him, there has been no evidence that donkeys could be farmed commercially and successfully in the Southern African region.

“Donkeys have never been farmed for any by-product in Southern Africa. It's a massive step, taking a new domesticated species for commercial gain,” Xoagub said.

Several issues have been raised about the application by Fu Hai Trading, including the quality and authenticity of its business plan and accusations that the process has been shrouded in secrecy.

According to sources, the business plan was created using a “five-minute business plan app” and was titled 'Meat Export Business Plan'.

In it, the company stated that it aimed to export donkey meat to Vietnam and eventually “the whole of Asia” within two years of starting operations.

The content relied heavily on the template text provided by the app, and contained no details of company registration, local business partners, an address or any other contact details.

Despite the plan's questionable standard, the Outjo municipality agreed in principle to sell the land to the company. It publicly notified residents of its intention to sell the land last month, and invited interested parties to lodge objections.

Last Friday the Outjo Community Committee handed over a letter listing a number of concerns and objections, as well as a petition that has garnered close to 1 600 signatures.

A legal expert who inspected the business plan said the document contained several flaws and lacked basic and critical details, including business registration information, an address or contact details for Fu Hai Trading.

OGONE TLHAGE

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