The Namibian livestock sector continues to be plagued by several areas of concern, the greatest of which is Meatco’s poor performance. “Once cattle have been reared, farmers must sell them. Abattoirs have not done well – neither in the commercial nor the communal sector,” said Calle Schlettwein, minister of agriculture (MAWLR), at the annual staff and stakeholder address in Windhoek on Monday (30 January).

Meatco, the country’s biggest abattoir, has to a certain extent failed farmers. These producers took it upon themselves and developed their own abattoirs, added the minister. “Meatco is in the intensive care unit (ICU) with a nurse waiting to hear if the machines should be switched off or new oxygen put in the cylinder. A time will come when a decision must be made on whether current resources put into a limping organisation is well spent, or whether it should be used to support farmers. It must be answered quickly because not only is time running out, but the money is drying up.”

The minister expressed his concern on abattoirs in the northern communal areas that have stopped slaughtering. “Have of the cattle population in the north has no market. Commodity-based trade was recently implemented and continues to work well as evidenced by the Katima Mulilo abattoir. Not only is it supplying consumers in the north and Windhoek with good quality meat products, but meat is also exported to Ghana. Thank you to the Meat Board who stood up and came up with a solution and opened the market for these farmers. The other abattoirs are in mortuaries, not in the ICU.” The Katima abattoir has since been taken over by Meatco and is still running.

“For abattoirs to work well, the co-operation of local authorities is needed. I am pleased to say that good contact is maintained with local, regional and traditional authorities as all of them want the same thing – to get abattoirs going so that farmers receive fair prices.”

The minister added that the MAWLR has taken over several abattoirs and are on the lookout for partners to run them under the ministry’s supervision. More details will be shared in due course.

[Source – AfriForum Namibia]

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