24 May 2013 05:00
ETANGA, 24 MAY (NAMPA) - A cow was sold for as little as N.dollars 260 at the Meatco cattle auction held at the Etanga village in the Kunene Region on Wednesday.
The amount paid for that cow is not even enough to buy a 50-kilogramme bag of maize meal, as such a bag normally costs N.dollars 270 at Opuwo, and is about N.dollars 330 in mini-shops here at Etanga.
Last year around this time, a cow could fetch up to N.dollars 2 500, while a bull could get up to N.dollars 10 000 or more.
Meatco, the sole livestock marketing company in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), has been holding auctions in the NCAs to buy cattle at villages, but the prices have not been favourable at all for the farmers who literally have to give away their cattle for a song.
Given the devastating drought situation in the Kunene Region, farmers are trying to adhere to President Hifikepunye Pohamba?s call for them to sell-off some of their livestock.
Communal farmers are likely to get even worse prices for their drought-stricken livestock for as long the animals continue to lose weight due to the drought.
According to the Senior Traditional Councillor of the Kakuru Kouje Traditional Authority, Uauhareka Tjambiru, many farmers have opted to sell their cattle to Meatco as they fear that they might lose them to the drought.
?Some farmers took their calves out of the auction pens when they were told that they will only get paid N.dollars 80 each. That is just unheard of,? said Tjambiru dejectedly.
Meatco started buying cattle at the Etanga village, some 100 kilometres west of Opuwo on Tuesday, and could only finish around Wednesday night as farmers brought in more cattle.
Despite these bad prices, farmers do not have any other option rather than to sell their livestock.
Speculators in the region do not even make a huge difference on the payments, as their top-up on the prices which are given by Meatco start from N.dollars 50 up to N.dollars 200 maximum.
Livestock speculators Kaherero Kasupi and Jons Mwatilevi, who were at the Etanga auction, bought 70 cattle from farmers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meatco bought 240 cattle at the auction, with the highest price paid being for a bull which fetched N.dollars 4 168.
Meatco?s Procurement Officer for the Kunene Region, Rapoka Tjikurame told Nampa that the livestock marketing company will be buying all the livestock that farmers bring to them at their auctions, or through direct marketing to the Meatco abattoir in Oshakati.
Meatco field prices range from N.dollars 1.24 per kilogramme to N.dollars 9.33 per kilogramme as from the ?A? grade to the ?C? grade.
With direct marketing to the Meatco abattoir, prices are ranging from N.dollars 19.09 per kilogramme to N.dollars 24.71 per kilogramme for the ?A? and ?C? grades, respectively.
Farmers are thus advised to market their livestock directly to the Meatco abattoir to get better returns for their livestock.
At least 30 farmers from the Etanga village registered 266 cattle to be directly marketed with the Meatco abattoir at the auction.