Despite the country being among the world’s top meat producers, the processing of meat products in Namibia has remained relatively low.
This has resulted in the country losing out on benefits that would have been yielded from the growing domestic market for value added meat and meat products as well as on business opportunities for developing downstream value addition industries such as feedlots, fodder production and other ventures linked to value addition and the diversification of meat and meat products.
Agricultural economist in the Policy and Planning Division at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry; Pekeloye Malwa, confirmed to The Villager that as a result of Namibia not adding value to its meat products, the country is not only making financial losses but also exporting employment.
“If we are to process our meat products before we export, our people will not only benefit from the amount of jobs that are bound to be open but the country’s economy will also be boosted by the business activities that will come with the establishment of new businesses in this sector,” Malwa said.
She further added that the fact that Namibia is exporting deboned meat means that the country is making lesser profits as opposed to countries that export bony meat.
“This is all due to the lack of enough meat processing establishments where local producers can add value to their meat products,” she said.
Namibia currently exports high volumes of animal on hooves such as wieners, sheep and goats to South Africa and breeding stock of cattle, goats and sheep to Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and this further exacerbates the situation.
Government is now commissioning a study of the possible incentives for value addition in the local meat industry. The study will also investigate value addition options within the entire value chain of the Namibian meat industry.
The study was motivated by Cabinet’s decision to discourage the exportation of live animals while promoting the utilisation of local abattoirs and ultimately increasing meat processing and value addition in Namibia.
A motivating factor for the study is that Government, through Vision 2030 and a series of National Development Plans, has identified agro-industrial development through processing and value addition to agricultural products as critical to Namibia’s industrialisation.
According to the terms of reference of the proposed study, it is essential to develop and implement strategies that will unlock the opportunities in the livestock and meat sectors.
The study, which is to be completed by a private consultant, is set to provide the line ministry with a situational analysis of Namibia’s meat industry and current value addition activities while investigating feasible and viable value addition possibilities in the industry including meat produced in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA). This will guide the line ministry on how to effectively promote processing and value addition to meat in the country; the ministry revealed.
The move was well received by farmers in the Hochfeld area in the Otjozondjupa region. A farmer at Farm Okakoruzengo, Hoonjo Tjihero, told The Villager that once this move is thoroughly investigated and properly executed, many farmers and small scale meat producers will reap the benefits stemming from the increase in the size of the market.
Tjihero maintained that the dream of every farmer is to be able to follow their animal from birth up to where it is being consumed.
“Our communal farmers are now making losses because of certain foreign markets’ regulations. For example, they now have to sell their animals to commercial farmers who in turn keep them for two years and later reap all the benefits by selling them to Meatco at market value,” he said adding that if meat was to be processed in Namibia for the local market, the criteria would be easier and less stringent for the communal farmer.
Tjihero is the marketing head for the Ongombe Farmers Association.
Meanwhile, the Development Bank of Namibia’s Head of Lending, Martin Inkumbi, this week reiterated the importance of the meat sector to the welfare of the local economy.
Inkumbi was making the announcement of loan approvals by the development bank for the third quarter of this year. DBN approved a N$120,6m loan facility for Meatco, which will be used to increase the meat production entity’s on the hoof procurements from communal and emerging farmers.
“Meat production is a significant contributor to Namibia’s economy and is expected to continue to contribute to the economy as the organisation and stakeholders continue to investigate and develop new agreements,” said Inkumbi.
Meatco will further use the monies to expand the Ekwatho Financial Scheme to communal and emerging farmers and diversify as well as develop markets with specific focus on Northern Communal Area meat products.
“Additional capacity and production is expected to give the organisation leverage in concluding new agreements and fulfilling contractual obligations,” Inkumbi concluded.