On the hoof livestock export worries Meatco’s board

The growing trend of exporting livestock on the hoof is worrisome, as it negatively impacts on the availability of livestock for throughput at local abattoirs.

If this situation continues, it will further deepen the triple threats of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country, says chairperson of the Meat Corporation of Namibia's board, Dr Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun. She spoke at the opening of Meatco's 32 Annual General Meeting last Friday.

A total of 315,198 cattle in 2017 left the country compared to 164,220 in 2016. She emphasised that Meatco's board has an obligation to exercise its mandate in line with the requirements as set forth in the Meatco Act, which is to strategically guide the corporation and to protect the nation's and producers' interest by ensuring transparency, good governance and sound technical decisions.

Namundjebo-Tilahun further highlighted that the country is facing tough economic times, including drought and a decline in cattle numbers available for slaughter. She thus urged Meatco members to ponder the sustainability of the meat industry in Namibia. The country's meat industry is under immense pressure and is facing serious challenges which include, amongst others, its sustainability, she said.

The acting Chief Executive Officer of Meatco, Jannie Breytenbach, reported that 81,984 animals were slaughtered during the year under review. About 38.59 percent were from commercial producers and 61.41 percent, came through the Meatco feedlots and backwards integration systems, creating a backlog on Meatco cash-flow cycles. Breytenbach also revealed the corporation recorded N$1.425 billion revenue during the year under review; that the net loss for the year was N$51.2 million; revenue decreased by 15.91 percent year-on-year, mainly due to the lower number of cattle

slaughtered (10.45 percent) and the strengthening of the Namibia dollar against major foreign currencies; and that Meatco paid N$899.852 million to producers, which is 20.04 percent more than last year's N$749.617 million.

Members at the AGM also discussed the legality of the board, with the meeting feeling that eligible members were not given the right to choose the current board. However, no further discussion took place as the matter was said to be sub-judice, since it is still in court. Finally, members urged the current board to implement actionable strategies that can restore producers' trust.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Esther Kaapanda, who read the minister's keynote address, encouraged members to discuss strategic issues that would impact their business in a positive manner such as the Growth at Home Strategy, increased value addition, and income generation for the country.

One hundred and eighteen members gathered at the AGM, at Wanderers Sports Club in Windhoek to deliberate issues and strategies that will shape Meatco's future, and to review its 2017/2018 financial performance.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia