Raise Weaners Locally – Rukoro

As a country and as stakeholders of Namibia’s beef industry, we need to rethink our production and marketing system and work to retain weaners while adding value to them locally.

It is therefore very important for us to start developing and implementing strategies that will enable us to become more self-reliant and less dependent on the goodwill of others in the long term.This is the message which Meatco Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Aocate Vekuii Rukoro, shared with producers at the second recent Agricultural Outlook Conference hosted by the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) at the Safari Hotel.

A. Rukoro said that there are many factors affecting farming today that relate to environmental, policy and market access. He said that when considering the marketing of animals, it is important to reflect on the huge impact the temporary closing of the border by South African (SA) authorities had on the exportation of live animals from Namibia.

“Suddenly, as Namibian producers, we were left without a market for our weaners. The fact that they can decide to close their borders at any time, is worrying.” Against this background, A. Rukoro encouraged stakeholders to think of strategies that will ensure a sustainable market for Namibia and to add value locally. “At Meatco we have already begun this process. We have taken the strategic step to enter into various backwards integration and value addition initiatives. Along the way we have lined-up a number of projects and investments that will allow us to establish significant local feedlot capacity – in other words, a greatly increased local market for our weaners,” he said.

However, A. Rukoro pointed out that for the feedlot industry to establish itself in Namibia, the idea needs to be supported by other industry initiatives, specifically fodder production. “The potential of the feedlot industry in Namibia is huge and will bring about many benefits for producers, but there is a lot of work to be done, and it starts with you as the producer,” he said.

According to A. Rukoro, producers can get involved by considering the opportunity and discussing it with fellow producers. He added that as a collective, producers can also ask the Ministry of Agriculture to set aside resources in support of the local feed industry. “All of us, in our own way, can get involved in creating local capacity to add value to weaners. The potential to grow and strengthen our beef production and supply is great, but will depend on what we are willing to do and how far we are willing to go,” he said, after encouraging producers to keep the debate going.

A. Rukoro also briefly touched on the topic of sustaining the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), which he said is a project that is becoming too expensive for Meatco producers to uphold alone, and that it will need a collaborative effort in future. “As an industry, we need to kick-start a national debate to agree on a master plan for the NCAs and come to an agreement on who should do what in terms of this plan. We also need government to be a part of it,” he said. He told producers that there is a need for the industry to put forward ideas. Meatco already presented some ideas including the erection of feedlots in the NCAs to improve access to the market for NCAs farmers, and to improve the quality and consistency of animals slaughtered in the NCAs.

He added because no discussions have taken place between the industry and government to agree on a future for the NCAs yet, there is no clarity on the way forward. Plans to improve the situation in the NCAs are also not getting off the ground. “We can achieve a great deal together, but we need to apply our minds and collaborate. Meatco remains committed to building ger partnerships with producers and our doors are always open,” he concluded.

Source : New Era