Whole Foods, an organisation involved in the marketing of healthy and organic meat products in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, this year shared that regenerative livestock production promises to be one of the biggest new trends of the 21st century that will promote farming and ensure cattle sustainability.
In addition, consumers around the world are more than ever concerned about the health status of the products, how an animal is reared on the field and how products are processed as well as handled during production until it is consumed. Consumers are also concerned with the economic and environmental challenges involved with the processing of products.
According to Executive: Livestock Procurement, Andre Mouton, Meatco is involved in this process for two reasons.
“First, because of the marketing opportunity that we can derive from this. Second, regenerative farming compels us to have a rethink that in 10 years’ time our current markets and their trading conditions will have changed drastically. Therefore, we need to adjust.
"From a Namibian point of view, as part of the commitment and hard work that has already been put in since 2014, we are hitting the ground running to be part of this process. Meatco would like to call upon all Namibian farmers and agricultural landowners to join this livestock production method and see the benefits that can be realised from it," said Mouton.
Mouton added that this is not only from a marketing perspective but also from a production point. There is a narrow connection between livestock quality and soil quality and by developing this relationship closely there is proof of increased production and increased soil sustainability. Regenerative farming should be the ideal opportunity to revive the cattle industry in Namibia and that can contribute to the sustainability of farmers.
In his capacity as Meatco’s Chief Executive Officer, Mwilima Mushokabanji, said Meatco embraces the regenerative farming concept. Through Meatco Foundation, Meatco has piloted projects and has given capacity to various farmers across the country regarding regenerative farming practices. In the local context, these include soil restoration using techniques such as biochar (charcoal production) and rangeland rehydration, and planned grazing. This is further enhanced by implementing rehabilitation measures such as over-seeding and animal-treated rangeland.
Mushokabanji highlighted that regenerative farming practice is important for Meatco. First, it is important to recognise Meatco as a resource-based organisation, as opposed to an activity-based organisation. This means there is much reliance on cattle as throughput for the organisation. Regenerative farming practices improve production and sustainability of cattle farmers who supply throughput to Meatco. Therefore, there is a win-win situation for Meatco and cattle farmers.
Second, regenerative farming practice embraces an environmentally friendly farming concept. This is equally important for Meatco, whose core values include ethics, quality and environmental consideration. Meatco serves an international niche market that is health conscious, therefore, its customers prefer free-range, organic and hormone free meat supplied by Meatco.
“In a nutshell, regenerative farming is not only important for Meatco’s value chain, but is equally important for the country during this era of climate change to ensure revival, competitiveness and sustainability of our agriculture industry which significantly contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of this nation,” Mushokabanji added.
Meatco, in collaboration with the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), has started farmers’ days where they discuss regenerative farming. However, because of the coronavirus outbreak, the process continues via a WhatsApp platform where NAU makes presentations as modules on the group.
Meatco’s Technical Adviser, Peter Krone, is the project coordinator and interested farmers can contact him at 081 275 4396 for further information.