Meatco Hit By 9 500 Cattle Slaughter Cancellations

MEAT producer, Meatco says farmers must still slaughter their animals despite good rains in some parts of the country.

Early in the year, Meatco met with livestock producers to map out emergency strategies on the looming drought. Livestock producers declared a drought in February.

Meatco agreed then to increase emergency slaughter dates and called on farmers to bring in more cattle for slaughter.

However, the past two months saw certain areas of Namibia receiving good rains and as a result many farmers have opted to keep their cattle to market later in the year.

Meatco had already planned for the emergency bookings but is disappointed that many farmers cancelled their slaughter bookings due to good rains.

DISAPPOINTED

Meatco CEO Vekuii Rukoro on Friday urged farmers to bring in their cattle for slaughter.

Rukoro said Meatco had geared itself to assist producers by keeping both the Windhoek and Okahandja factories open simultaneously until August. He said this despite the fact that the Windhoek abattoir was scheduled for routine maintenance and upgrades in March.

Rukoro said while Meatco has re-strategise its operations for 2015 to ease the burden on the farmers due to drought, the farmers are in-fact doing the opposite by withholding their livestock for slaughter.

“Meatco has now incurred additional costs for keeping the Windhoek factory open and recruiting contract workers, which is costly to the company as animals are just not coming in as anticipated,” he said.

Rukoro said short notice cancellations have severe impacts on the efficiencies of Meatco factories.

“When they cancel at extreme short notice, it has severe cost implications for business, and at the end of the year it will translate into an impact on the producer prices,” said Rukoro.

In April alone, Meatco received cancellation of more than 5 000 animals, while in May slaughter scheduled for about 4 500 animals was cancelled.

“We really want to call upon the producers that they must try to honour their contract agreements made with Meatco. The certainty of raw material for the factories is vital, as without reasonable certainty it will create complete chaos in successfully running a business”, Rukoro said.

He said farmers should keep in mind that the current rains may not carry them throughout the year, but only for a limited time.

“So even though they would like to increase the quality of their cattle now, the question is will their cattle still be in that condition by the time they get another slot?,” he asked.

LOWEST EVER

In 2014, Meatco slaughtered 78 000 cattle, the lowest number ever in Meatco’s history due to the 2013 drought, according to the 2014 annual report. In the 201314 financial year, a total of 271 000 cattle were exported on the hoof – a dramatic increase of 280% compared with the 132 500 exported in 201213 due to poor veld conditions.

Early this month, the government said farmers can benefit from two government schemes if they sell their livestock before the animals become too lean due to the drought, the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Abraham Nehemia said.

He said selling animals in a good condition would mean the farmers would get optimum prices for them.

In April, the government made N$300 million available to implement interim drought measures, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila announced.

Just two years ago, the country suffered a severe drought, which was recorded as one of the most challenging periods in 30 years. This led former President Hifikepunye Pohamba to declare a national emergency.

Source : The Namibian