The Namibian (Windhoek)

8 June 2010

Namibia: Meatco Adds 70 New Crush Pens in Ncas

Meatco is facilitating the establishments of 70 crush pens in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) after plans to establish a feedlot at Etunda near Ruacana under the auspices of the Agriculture Ministry collapsed.

The pens will cost about N$13 million, funded by the European Union (EU).

Twelve crush pens will be erected in the Kunene Region, 10 in Oshana, nine in Omusati, while the Oshikoto Region will get 12 pens and Ohangwena nine. Sixteen pens will be erected in the Kavango Region and two pens in the Tsumkwe West area.

The crush pens will be located within 30 km radiuses per region, reducing the trekking distances of cattle to the pens. The pens will be used for marketing of animals, branding, vaccination, dehorning and sorting of livestock, Meatco said in a statement last week.

"Traditional authorities were involved during the site identification processes as part of Meatco's intention of bringing services closer to the farmers. To date a total of 28 crush pens have been completed and are in use the Oshikoto, Omusati and Oshana regions," Meatco said.

Upon completion, the pens will be handed over to the traditional authority of each region to ensure usage by community members under the supervision of the authority.

The crush pens are constructed from steel to ensure durability. They will be fitted adjustable loading ramps to suit all types of trucks for loading and off-loading of animals.

Some of the added advantages of the crush pens are bringing Meatco's services closer to the farmers and improving the beef quality by reducing the trekking distances for cattle, resulting in better prices for communal farmers,

Meatco has been buying cattle on the hoof in the NCA's directly from farmers in villages.

"The aim is to provide assistance with the selection of cattle that are suitable and ready for marketing and the officer will help weigh the cattle and arrange for payment," according to Vicky Raimond-Muranda, Meatco's manager for corporate communications.

"The officers further play a critical role in advising communal farmers with cattle marketing, whether the cattle are fat enough and suitably weighted. The experienced officers assist communal farmers with information that will help them make the right decision," Raimond-Muranda said.

Meatco also renders a transport service at competitive rates to farmers in the NCAs with the transport of their cattle from various locations in those regions to Meatco abattoirs.

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