Namibia: Schlettwein Calls for Urgent Attention On Redline

The incoming board of directors at the Meat Board of Namibia has been urged to consider equalising market opportunities and prospects of farmers for the entire country, including for farmers north of the contentious Veterinary Cordon Fence, also known as 'the redline'.

The plea was issued yesterday by agriculture, water and land reform minister Calle Schlettwein, who cautioned the incoming board that the issue of the redline needs to be urgently addressed.

"The split between the commercial disease-free livestock sector south of the redline and the communal sector north of it, where diseases are still prevalent, in our opinion, is an ugly remnant of the divide and rule strategy of colonial powers, which needs to be addressed - and it is one of the focal points that the meat board must take on," said the minister in the capital at the inauguration of the new board.

Schlettwein also pointed out the Meat Board of Namibia is embedded in the realisation that livestock production is providing livelihoods for a significant portion of the Namibian population, as about 70% of the population is directly or indirectly involved in agriculture.

The mandate of the Meat Board of Namibia, as per the Meat Board Industry Act (No. 12 of 1981), is to promote the interest of Namibia's meat industry domestically and elsewhere.

To the incoming board, the minister said one of the key responsibilities is to market the livestock sector locally and export the best quality and reliable quantities of meat at the best price for producers.

"And it is, therefore, in the public interest that the livestock sector flourishes and provides the nation with food, creates and maintains jobs and equal economic opportunities for all farmers regardless of whether they are north or south of the fence," said Schlettwein.

He further urged the board to comply with market conditions related to product quality, product traceability for offtake quantities and best prices for producers, while at the same time keeping consumer interests at heart.

Furthermore, the minister charged the board to make the agricultural sector attractive again. According to him, the sector no longer employs traditional farming methods but is now a complex industry where technology should be adequately leveraged.

"You also have an impact on the way of life of farmers, and farmers are emotional people; they are tied to the ground - they are linked to the animals. So, it's not like a person who deals with plastic commodities - and so, farming touches people much, much more. Therefore, with your regulation, if you touch them too badly, you will see stiff resistance very quickly. That's not what we want; we want cooperation," said Schlettwein.

The Meat Board's new ten-member board consists of Adv. Lucia Hamutenya (chairperson), Paul Klein, Jessy Kamwi, Sartorius Von Bach, Rosalinda Katjivena (reappointed), Julene Meyer (reappointed), Annascy Mwanyangapo, Willem Nekwiyu, Patrick Liebenberg and Christopher Mberema. The board is to serve for three years from 2023-2025.

Moreover, according to a Meat Board of Namibia report, live exports lost a percentage of their market share, decreasing from 72.9% to 66.4%, while export abattoirs and butchers increased their market share during the same period, accounting for 9.6% and 24% of total marketing, respectively.

"The market witnessed a growing trend towards the slaughter industry being dominated by butchers as opposed to export-approved abattoirs, particularly during the 2021 and 2022 period. The resumption of slaughtering activities at the Farmers Meat Market Mariental abattoir has yielded positive results. Export-approved abattoirs increased their performance by 258.8% during the final quarter of 2022," the report reads.

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