Gellap — The slaughter and export of SWAKARA products to Copenhagen in Denmark will soon be increased to 300 000, the Manager of the government's Gellap Ost Research Station near Keetmanshoop has announced.
Gerick Husselman told Farmers Forum during last week's Agra SWAKARA information/training week at Gellap-Ost that, presently, Namibia is only capable of producing some 130 000 SWAKARA pelts for the international market where close to N$50 million is handled annually all over the world. Namibia's pelts remain sought-after and are of very high quality. Husselman says it is all systems go and strategies are in place to increase SWAKARA production to 300 000 pelts per annum. In the late seventies Namibia and South Africa produced more than five million pelts per year.
Husselman says one of the strategies to increase production is to encourage farmers to make use of the current government programme in terms of which they can get subsidised loans to buy more karakul sheep. "We use methods that are very humane when we slaughter as we realise that sensitive dealers may not appreciate the traditional way of slaughtering applied in Namibia".
Namibia is the only producer of SWAKARA worldwide, says Husselman. The demand is high and the prices are good. Presently SWAKARA producers get N$150 for a poor quality pelt and up to N$2000 per pelt with a good quality. "We use our karakul sheep for meat, making carpets, but the main product is the SWAKARA pelt. Our sheep are kept in a very good condition and workers will not go home unless all ewes are back in the kraal."
At present there are 1 500 SWAKARA sheep are on the Gellap Ost Research station and 1300 of them are stud breed. The research station offers about six courses in pelts selection, handling of pelts, slaughtering methods and sorting of pelts. Husselman further says as the SWAKARA production is constantly upgraded and modernised, no SWAKARA pelt can be bought and exported to Copenhagen unless it has gone through the new method where a stunning apparatus is used to trace the father and mother of a lamb. The apparatus is connected to a pelts number in order to identify the origin of the pelts. "No farmer can sell a SWAKARA pelt in Namibia anymore if they do not have followed the procedure. Even people farming in communal areas are obliged to use the stunning apparatus though they are allowed to use one machine in a group situated in the same area. The apparatus can be powered by electricity or car batteries in order to accommodate communal farmers.
Apart from karakul sheep, the station also farm with an own breed, called the gellaper. The breed is a crossing between Dorper and Damara sheep some 25 years ago. Today the Gellaper is a breed of its own and is sold for meat products. The 13 thousand hectare farm was bought by government for research purposes in 1935. It is run by a manager and 20 workers.