Namibia: Meatco Eyes DRC, Ghana for Northern Beef


IN a quest to secure a market for the northern livestock farmers, the national meat company, Meatco, is exploring new markets in Ghana and the DRC.

It is doing so through a subsidiary, Meatco's Meatco Northern Communal Area (Pty) Ltd which is headed by Kingsley Kwenani.

Kwenani was appointed last year, and his move to create a market for northern farmers in other areas of Africa comes at a time when the African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched an Africa-wide livestock investment master plan.

The plan is to strengthen the agriculture sector, particularly the livestock sub-sector whose true potential remains untapped, said the bank.

The northern livestock subsector has limited economic development and remains a contributor to persistent poverty and deteriorating food and nutrition security across the continent, the bank's opening statement of the master plan reads.

Meatco has been Namibia's poster child bringing in billions over the years by selling beef to European markets mainly.

The cattle for these markets have, however, been mainly those south of the redline.

Over the years, northern farmers have complained about this exclusion, saying it has hindered their ability to scale up and also partake in the lucrative beef export markets which farmers south of the red line enjoy.

The data show that although Meatco bought over 154 770 cattle for slaughter during the past two years, only 2 394 were from the northern communal areas.

This is despite the region having an estimated 1,6 million cattle, the state-owned enterprise said in its 2020/21 financial report.

Exporting to other parts of Africa appears to be the solution, says Kwenani.

Namibian beef is considered to be the best in sub-Saharan African and if the African markets are explored, it would lead to the company finding a lasting solution for these farmers, the company said in its recently released annual report.

The northern farmers were not excluded without cause, it is said. The lack of mechanisms to minimise the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the NCA has systematically prevented northern farmers from accessing lucrative markets.

To enable market access, the beef from the NCA will be subjected to the Commodity Base Trade (CBT) Protocols that would allow its sale south of the veterinary cordon fence and the new African markets, explained Meatco.

Meatco's NCA subsidiary quarantined 540 animals for 30 days in preparation for the first slaughter at the Katima Mulilo abattoir early last month.

The abattoir is set to slaughter 55 to 60 animals per day. The cattle would be quarantined for a month and then slaughtered under CBT protocols.

The CBT approach requires that all animals going through an export abattoir be thoroughly checked, said Kwenani.

They should then go through a 30-day quarantine as required by Namibia's Directorate of Veterinary Services.

"This is to ensure that symptoms of foot-mouth-disease (FMD) or any other disease are identified during the

quarantine period and then checked again before slaughter," he said.

After slaughter, the carcasses go through maturation for 24 hours at 2 to 3 degrees, as an additional measure to detect diseases.

"The final stage requires carcasses to be deboned and de-glanded for the marketing in any market that accepts meat from an FMD zone," Kwenani stated

This includes south of the red line and any other markets, he added.

Exports to the new African markets are expected to start by next month, after the Katima Mulilo abattoir has been audited and Namibia has been issued export permits by the authorities in these new regional markets.

Currently, the country is not only going through a restocking phase, but a pricing war is fully on between operators of export abattoirs and producers.

Producers feel they are not being paid enough for their cattle, with some producers threatening to start their own abattoirs.

Meatco was directed by the government to open the Katima Mulilo and Rundu abattoirs.

The abattoirs will facilitate the marketing of an estimated 1,6 million cattle in the NCA to be mainstreamed into the Namibian economy, by accessing markets south of the red line, in regional and international markets, in the Middle East and southeast Asia.

The Katima Mulilo abattoir catchment covers the entire infected zone from the Zambezi region extending to Ndiyona constituency in the Kavango East region.

The infected zone is home to about 240 000 cattle of which the Katima Mulilo abattoir's total capacity accounts for only 12 000 cattle per year.

This represents only 5% of the total cattle in the catchment area.

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