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Livestock producers call on govt to create a conducive environment for operations

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Namibian livestock producers have called on the government to seriously consider the creation of two Meatco entities that would service producers north and south of Namibia’s veterinary cordon fence (VCF) as two independent subsidiaries

The proposal was made during a recent hearing of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration.

The VCF stretches across the north of the country. In the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) north of the line, several animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, are endemic. However, the area south of the line is free of the disease. This means producers in the south are able to export red meat to destinations such as the EU and China while markets for producers in the NCA remain limited.

“The key to future success lies in establishing two independent subsidiaries for Meatco: Meatco NCA and Meatco South (NewCo). Each subsidiary should enable shareholding by its respective producers and private investors,” said Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) manager Roelie Venter at the hearing.

The producers’ delegation members represented all the farmers’ unions in the country, namely the Namibia National Farmers Union, the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers’ Union, the Previously Disadvantaged Namibian Farmers Union, and the NAU. They jointly declared that the Meatco parastatal was poorly managed. This was underscored by ongoing government bailouts to keep Meatco afloat and the late payments to producers.

Jako van Wyk, chairperson of the Namibian Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO), said that the sustainability and profitability of beef production north and south of the cordon fence needed to be expanded. He said it was the keystone for rural wealth creation: “One of the most pressing challenges is the late payment from Meatco’s side to the producers. Namibian beef producers compete in a very competitive global arena and beef exports form the backbone of the sector in the areas south of the fence.

“It is the government’s responsibility to create a conducive environment for us to operate in. The same goes for the farmers to the north of the fence. It is our firm belief that the NCA needs a Meatco subsidiary with its board of directors. The northern subsidiary should be focused on the development and expansion of markets founded on commodity-based trading,” he said.