Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: New Karakul Board Inaugurated

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, John Muturwa, recently inaugurated the new members of the Karakul Board including a new chairperson and vice-chairperson.

The new board comprises full members who are referred to as substantive board members as well as alternate members who will stand in for their respective substantive members when needed. The board currently has a total of 10 members, including both substantive and alternate members who serve on the Board from 01 January 2013 until 31 December 2016.

The Krakul Board of Namibia consists of four substantive members representing the producers of pelts and wool and one substantive member each for the Swakara Breeders Society and the Marketing organisation respectively. In total, there are four alternate members on the board, however two positions representing producer of pelts and wool, must still be appointed.

Congratulating the new members, Muturwa said the tasks that lay ahead for the members are simple yet very serious and important. The minister urged the members to use their expertise and wisdom to promote the Swakara industry within the confinement of the relevant laws and policies of the country and the Constitution, as well as the goals of the fourth National Development Plan and the Ministry's Strategic Plan 2012/2013-2016/2017.

The minister further handed the responbility to the members to report back and consult with their constituencies so much so that theBoard's decisions are known and supported throughout the industry. "You must explain the challenges of this vital industry to the ordinary farmers whose voice is often not heard but depends heavily for income on this industry. You should create a vital link of communication between the farmers as well as government," Mutorwa said.

In June 2012, Mutorwa launched the Swakara Support Scheme in Keetmanshoop which aims to assists communal and resettled Swakara farmers in buying rams and ewes at subsidised prices. The Scheme also allows for the training of farmers in managing the breed. The minister said since then he had not seen any report on the Scheme and therefore urged the Board to look into the matter.

He said government wants the members to focus primarily on the expansion of the production of karakul sheep. "As board members, you are an agent of government and with the support of government, the board should attain this strategic objective," Mutorwa said. The conditions for expansion, according to the minister, are currently ideal because of the high prices producers earn for their pelts, and the way of the governmen declaring karakul a strategic industry. He also mentioned the ministry and Board's good co-operation for the past three decades, noting that this is a positive feature of karakul.

Raimar von Hasse, who was elected as the Board's new Chaiperson,echoed Mutorwa's sentiments and pledged to serve the industry at the best of his ability. "I am encouraged to stand at the helm of Swakara and will fulfill all expectations, needs and roles of the industry as its new Chairperson," von Hasse said, adding that the new board will ensure that more training is offered to farmers in the industry. Gabriel Biwa was elected as the Boards's Vice-Chairperson.

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