THE re-opening of abattoirs in the northern communal areas is an important development that is pivotal to the beef value chain development in the country.
This was said by minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein when he recently re-opened the Oshakati Eloolo Abattoir that was closed in 2016.
Schlettwein said abattoirs will support the government to facilitate market access for livestock and livestock products and develop the beef value chain in the communal areas.
"It involves the upgrading and construction of abattoirs and meat processing facilities across the NCAs.
"The beef value chain sustains large and small-scale cattle farmers and the new balance that must be found is one that ensures access for all farmers to it without risking loss of access to the best export markets in Europe and to domestic and regional markets," said Schlettwein.
Schlettwein said the livestock industry in the NCAs has been experiencing serious local and international marketing challenges for too long.
This is because of the separation of NCAs from the recognised foot-and-mouth disease free zone through the veterinary cordon fence.
This was worsened by the closure of the Oshakati and Katima Mulilo abattoirs in 2016 after the withdrawal of Meatco from the NCAs.
Schlettwein said the reopening of the Oshakati abattoir, brings a great relief to communal farmers, adding that the ministry had also renovated a number of abattoirs including Outapi, Eenhana and Katima Mulilo while the Rundu facility is being upgraded.
The ministry is also rehabilitating quarantine camps at Omutambo Omawe, Oshivelo, Okongo, Kapano and Katima Mulilo.
"Furthermore, the government is planning to upgrade the Opuwo slaughter house and to construct a meat processing facility at Bukalo.
"The government is also constructing the Ongwediva meat processing plant," said Schlettwien.
The Oshakati Eloolo Abattoir is run by Kiat Investment (Pty) Ltd and Ningbo Agriculture Investment Group, a Chinese investor. Namibia is one of a few African countries exporting beef to China.
Ningbo Agriculture Investment Group director Zhuang Caizeng said their company invests in agricultural and animal husbandry and their partnership with Kiat has created a good opportunity for the people of the two countries.
"We are confident that together with the ministry of agriculture, we will export NCA beef and mutton to China, increase foreign exchange reserves for the country and create many job opportunities for the people," he said.
The chairperson of Kiat Investment, Paully Iipinge, said the re-opening of the Oshakati abattior will improve the livelihoods of many people through employment creation.
He said 50 people have been employed at the abattoir permanently but, when production gets into full-swing, between 80 and 250 people will be employed.
Schlettwein also visited the Eenhana Abattoir, run by Namibia Northern Abattoirs (NNA), a company for the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NLVA).
NNA chairperson and president of NLVA, Ben Shikongo, briefed the minister on the challenges they face.