Omuntele — The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on Saturday inaugurated a livestock marketing facility at Omutele in the Oshikoto Region.
The auction kraal, which costs N$3 million, will be used for livestock marketing, livestock vaccination, the hosting of agricultural shows and loading cattle sold to abattoirs.
It also houses a small community market.
Inaugurating the facility, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, said although agriculture remained the mainstay of the country's economy, livestock marketing was still a major challenge in the northern communal areas.
He explained that the facility was built in line with one of the resolutions of the 1991 National Land Conference held immediately after Namibia's independence, which found that the majority of small-scale farmers living in the north were prevented from selling their livestock to foreign markets because of the so-called "veterinary restrictions".
"These restrictions exclude them from substantial economic benefits. Therefore, the conference resolved the removal of the so-called red line, but it has to be kept in place to preserve Namibia's access to cattle export market," he quoted from the land conference resolutions.
The minister further explained that the government then set up cattle quarantine camps, auctions kraals and veterinary service provision to allow farmers in the north to market their livestock south of the red line.
This, he said, was because there was a lack of proper livestock marketing facilities, which also contributed to rangeland degradation.
"It is for this reason that the ministry started on a national project, known as 'Support Livestock Marketing Infrastructure' , to give strong support to these communal farmers."
Livestock marketing facilities in these areas would be upgraded and constructed and farmers trained to manage and maintain such livestock marketing facilities, said Mutorwa.
According to him, the auction pen at Omuntele will cater for small and medium enterprises through the provision of marketing stalls that will enhance farming activities.
Mutorwa urged farmers, through their local authorities and councillors to take good care of the facility and to guard against vandalism so that it remains in good condition for many years to come.
The facility will boost pastoralists' livelihoods by providing integrated services such as water, feed and veterinary services.
Speaking on behalf of the Oshikoto Regional Governor Penda Ya Ndakolo, the chairperson of the regional council, Marx Nekongo, said that facility is a positive effort of the government to facilitate and provide marketing opportunities to farmers who were previously disadvantaged.