Meatco Namibia kicked off the second round of communal Farmers Liaison Meetings (FLMs) in Eenhana, Uutapi and Ongwediva from 29 August to 1 September 2016.
The purpose of FMLs is to engage with farmers north of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF) about Meatco’s operations and to share information regarding the new business model, particularly the mobile slaughter unit (MSU), also known as the “mobile abattoir”.
Heading the team was Corporate Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Executive Vehaka Tjimune, Marketing and Sales Executive Cyprianus Khaiseb, Senior Manager Stakeholder Relations Lapitomhinda Hashingola, and Procurement Officer Benneth Tjikurame.
Vehaka explained how the business model is a calculated approach to curb operational losses incurred during 2014/15 and that it is necessary, considering that there are very little to no export opportunities for products north of the VCF due to various diseases including foot-and-mouth (FMD) – a point the producers understood.
Tjimune said that Meatco is aware of the crucial need for farmers in the Northern Communal Area (NCA) to resume marketing their livestock due to the current drought and FMD outbreak in 2015.
Corporate Affairs and Stakeholder relations Executive: Vehaka Tjimune
Producers were excited to hear about how the mobile abattoir would be starting operations soon and were keen to find out when it would be deployed to their area. It was explained that the MSU would be moved there based on slaughter demand and that the procurement officer would notify them in due course.
On the issue of slaughter demand, local farmer Nghitindaka Shikongo asked for clarity regarding the quality and type of animal that Meatco requires to boost demand for slaughter in the area.
“Often farmers are not sure as to what conformation, quality and grade refers to, so if they are turned away due to these requirements, they lose faith in Meatco and do not produce anymore thinking they do not have the right type of animal,” Shikongo said.
Cyprianus explained what quality, conformation and type refer to and what kind of animal is needed.
“Understandably, conformation and A-grade cattle are not easy to maintain due to various factors like rainfall and grazing, which means that producing high earning grades is hard. However, initiatives such as feedlots from green schemes will help the farmers to produce better quality,” Cyprianus said.
Apart from being cost-effective for farmers and creating local employment, the MSU targets the local market. Therefore the products will only be for local consumption via various retailers such as the P&J group, Woermann & Brock and other interested retailers. The unit complies with all health regulations and is registered as a C-class abattoir.
Overall, the meetings were held in good spirit and various points were raised such as the need for more communication in the local vernacular to create a better understanding of the MSU that is geared to the unique circumstances of the NCA and aims to bring slaughtering services closer to farmers.
Farmers and stakeholders at the Ongwediva FLM