Meatco only meat processor to operate in NCA and SVCF: Rukoro

14 Jan 2014 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 14 JAN (NAMPA) – Meat Corporation of Namibia Chief Executive Officer Vekuii Rukoro says Meatco is the only meat processor to operate in both the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) and South of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (SVCF) in Namibia.
He was quoted as saying this in a statement issued by Meatco on Tuesday in response to recent statements made by Witvlei Meat chairperson Sidney Martin in local media.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein cut Witvlei Meat’s Norway beef quota meat allocation by 500 tonnes when he announced the results of the bidding process for the lucrative Norwegian market recently.
A quota allocation of 300 tonnes of beef was awarded to Witvlei Meat, while Meatco would be able to sell 1 200 tonnes to Norway and Brukarros Meat Processors (BMP) was awarded a quota of 100 tonnes of beef for export. During the past three years the allocation of 1 600 tonnes of meat was done on a 50:50 basis between Witvlei Meat and Meatco, but with the entrance of BMP, Cabinet decided that the quota should be done in a bidding process and that role players should comply with certain criteria.
Martin was quoted in local newspapers as saying in the case of Meatco only white commercial farmers are benefitting from the Norway quota, as the meat north of the cordon fence, known as the Red Line, cannot be exported to Europe.
Rukoro in Tuesday’s statement said Martin has opted to use the racial card in an effort to promote his cause and to tarnish the name of Meatco.
“It is also the same statement Mr Martin used in his lobby to obtain the initial 50 per cent of the Norwegian quota in 2010. It is as untrue now as it was then,” the Meatco CEO stated.
He agreed that the meat from the NCA cannot be exported to Europe or Norway, but said this is not reflected in the price paid to producers in the NCA.
“Producers in the NCA receive the same prices as producers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence, as if we are able to sell their meat into international markets,” he noted.
Rukoro said it is not their choice or because of their doing that producers in the NCA do not comply with European Union (EU) regulations, but because the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has declared the region prone to foot and mouth disease (FMD).
“We therefore cannot penalise these producers for something they do not have control over and that’s why Meatco pays them the same prices as producers south of the fence,” he explained.
Rukoro stressed that any benefit derived from international markets are equally applicable and passed on to producers who deliver to Meatco north and south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence. “The superior returns we generate south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence allow us to subsidise the price paid to producers in the NCA. Without markets like Europe and Norway, it would not be possible,” he explained.
He explained that the corporation's business model is that they do not pay out dividends to shareholders, and instead all extra capital they make goes back to producers in the form of producer prices. He said this results in improved prices for all producers delivering to Meatco - both communal and commercial.
The Meatco CEO said in the last financial year, over the Norwegian quota period, the majority of Meatco’s producers were black farmers from communal areas, amounting to 1 586 producers – or 58 per cent in total.
“It is unfortunate that we need to crouch to the racial level in an independent Namibia, but the facts obviously negate the statement by Martin that Meatco is only there to benefit white commercial farmers,” Rukoro said, adding that in contrast the opposite is true of Witvlei, who because of their business structure serve only a handful of “commercial white producers”.
“We challenge him to take the Namibian public in his confidence by opening his books and share the details and status of his producers. We are willing to do so,” he said.
Rukoro dismissed Martin's warning of the immediate closure of the abattoir should Witvlei not receive 50 per cent of the Norway quota, which he said would result in the loss of 165 jobs and deprive more than 600 dependents of their main source of income in the Omaheke Region.
“This statement is also inaccurate. The departure of Martin and his senior management team from Witvlei does not and will not spell the end of Witvlei,” he said.
Rukoro went on to say Meatco has pronounced itself clearly on this issue, saying if Witvlei Meat cannot continue operating its business, Meatco will step in and take over operations and secure the jobs of the 165 employees working at Witvlei - with the exception of the senior management team.
“The statements of Mr Martin are therefore nothing more than emotional and psychological blackmail and result in the unnecessary torment of the community in Witvlei,” he said.
Rukoro said the Norwegian quota was given to Namibia to benefit Namibian producers and Meatco is the best vehicle to do that.
He stressed that unlike Meatco, which pays out its profit to the majority of Namibian cattle producers, Witvlei acts in the interest of a few shareholders and a handful of producers only.
Rukoro said an increased quota for Witvlei serves only to enrich these shareholders with returns that could have been directed to Namibian producers’ pockets.