Meat exports to Zim a big untapped resource:Mutorwa

30 Nov 2013 11:40am
WINDHOEK, 30 NOV (NAMPA) - The first truck with 20 tonnes of chilled and boned meat from the northern food and mouth disease (FMD) protection zone in Namibia left for Harare, Zimbabwe on Thursday from the Oshakati Abattoir.
It is estimated that agricultural co-operatives from the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) will pocket millions of Namibian dollars from meat exports to Zimbabwe, while hundreds of Namibians are expected to gain jobs in that industry.
The first load is part of 1 000 tonnes of boned meat from the NCAs destined for Zimbabwe as part of an agreement between the two governments to provide support to farmers during the current drought situation in Namibia.
The departure of the meat coincided with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Thursday between the Agriculture Ministry, the Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia (MCA-N) and six co-operatives from the NCA, which are the suppliers of the meat products to that new market.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa said the livestock sector in the NCAs is a big unexploited business.
“The livestock sector in the NCA is a big untapped resource to generate more wealth and employment for Namibians and residents in our country. Each per cent of increased take-off rate in sales is estimated to generate about N.dollars 60 to 70 million per year to the agriculture GDP (gross domestics product),” said Mutorwa in a statement made available to Nampa on Friday.
The NCAs consist of the Kavango, Kunene (north), Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, and Zambezi regions.
It not only hosts about 60 per cent of the Namibian population, but also includes about 60 per cent of cattle in the country.
However, the livestock industry of that area contributes only 10 per cent of the agricultural sector in the country. This means that the off-take rate on sales in the NCAs is less than four per cent, compared to the 20 to 25 per cent in the commercial areas.
Therefore, government embarked upon different strategies and policy interventions to increase this low productivity in agriculture in the NCAs, according to Mutorwa.
In this critical situation of drought in Namibia, government has put in place new strategies in opening up the livestock markets in Zimbabwe, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Lack of strong livestock marketing institutions has been identified as one of the shortcomings - limiting growth in the livestock marketing sector of the NCAs. As opposed to commercial areas, all existing farmers’ organisations in the NCAs were established without capital, business or operational strategies.
This often led to inability to perform tasks, execute roles and responsibilities as well as a failure to win farmers’ trust.
However, Mutorwa is positive that the situation will improve, as the livestock marketing co-operatives are now capacitated by the Community-based Rangeland and Livestock Management Project (CBRLM) with funding from the MCA-N.
“I am confident that the establishment of functioning livestock marketing co-operatives in the NCAs will have far reaching positive results and will contribute to the realisation of national development priorities with real impact on the ground with the grassroots people where it really matters the most,” he added.
The MoU was signed with agricultural co-operatives in the NCA which include Zakumuka Producers Co-operatives (Kunene north), Kavango Livestock Marketing Co-operative, Uukumwe Livestock Co-operative (Oshikoto), Ongushu Livestock Marketing (Oshana), Omusati Livestock Marketing Co-operative, and the Ohangwena Livestock Marketing Co-operative.