Meatco and the University of Namibia (UNAM) have signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on training, research and innovation.
The purpose of the agreement, which was signed on 16 February 2021, is for the parties to cooperate and engage in training, research and innovation activities that will promote the achievement of each party’s respective mandates while contributing to the economic growth of Namibia.
At the signing ceremony, UNAM Vice-Chancellor Professor Kenneth Matengu pointed out that the MoU signifies a grand moment for UNAM. He emphasised that the livestock sector contributes around 3.5% to the Gross Domestic Product. He said the university supports the agricultural sector, as the country supplies meat to niche markets in Europe, America and China.
“We venture, as a university, to provide capacity through training and research to ensure that the human resources that will be the employees in this sector are of a high standard. And we recognise Meatco as a meat processing and marketing institution with a premium value-added and competitive brand. The university has over the years built its capacity and networks to respond to the needs of our partners and stakeholders such as Meatco. By signing this MoU today, we are generating a blueprint for research and innovation practices that should not allow students to just come up with the ‘know-what’ but also own ‘the know-how’ and ‘know-why’,” Matengu said.
“We own training, research and experimentation facilities such as Neudamm and Ogongo, which will allow it to support extension services. Through this MoU, the individuals trained at these facilities will work closely with Meatco. The university also has a programme in Katima Mulilo for animal health and there are seven academic veterinarians who respond to diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease through research and innovation,” Matengu added.
Meatco’s Chief Executive Officer, Mwilima Mushokabanji, reiterated that this MoU marks a unique partnership between the two institutions. The agricultural sector is a key wealth creator and through the African Union Agenda 2063’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme the future and direction of agriculture on the continent is unpacked.
In advanced economies, serious and consistent investment in research and development has led to economic wealth, especially through the symbiotic relationship between the industry and universities.
“From a Meatco perspective and as an implementor we are concerned about profitability, competitiveness and the sustainability of the sector at large. However, we cannot drive these aspects without continuous interaction with universities like UNAM that have the responsibility of conducting extensive scientific research. We are privileged to associate ourselves with the university because it has one of the most skilled agricultural faculties in Namibia.
“Due to our business model of operating abattoirs and recently going to start operating the Rundu Abattoir, it is critical that we work closely with your veterinarians, for example, to assist us in dealing with difficult pertinent industry-related issues such as climate change, a phenomenon affecting the industry currently. With research and development, we should be able to address any industry issues.
“We are proud and are looking forward to this partnership, as it will also enable us to invest in capacity building by sending our farmers to the university’s various training facilities for short training courses on sustainable farm-related aspects,” Mushokabanji said.
Mushokabanji revealed that a committee will be established to oversee the implementation of the agreement and the evaluation of the MoU’s progress.