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New turnaround plan for NIDA ranch

2022-08-19  John Muyamba

New turnaround plan for NIDA ranch

MANGETTI – The acting Kavango Cattle Ranch (KCR) manager says he has devised a plan to turn things around at the farm, which has seen neglect setting in after a farmworker was trampled to death by elephants.

Gerhard Mouton told trade minister Lucia Iipumbu on Friday that he has plans to sell some livestock from the Namibia Industrial Development Agency’s (NIDA) Mangetti West cattle ranch to revive the embattled entity’s fortunes.

The Kavango West regional council’s recent visit to the ranch uncovered the sad state of affairs as unattended livestock roved around the muddy waterpoint in dire need of water, feed and care. 

The council discovered numerous cattle carcasses at various waterpoints on the ranch, which comprises over 40 cattle posts. 

Estimates are that since January 2015, the number of cattle on the ranch decreased significantly from more than 16 300 to less than 10 000 currently.

“We just need to think creatively. The first point is integration and on Sunday, 7 August, we tracked about 250 cattle and placed them into quarantine so that we sell to Meatco and have financial resources. The cattle will come out of quarantine on 7 September, and we will at least have N$1.5 million. So, that is the starting point for us so that we have the cash and develop here were there’s a problem,’’ he noted.

The ranch has 76 workers responsible for the various cattle posts. Apart from the danger posed by the high number of marauding elephants, workers at the ranch also have no vehicle to use for patrols or when doing maintenance on the fence and other facilities around the ranch, or to use in cases of emergency.

Mouton told Iipumbu the safety of the employees is his main priority.

Workers recently agreed to return to the cattle posts after they receive a danger allowance of N$500. 

They vacated the camps last year after one employee was killed by elephants. 

“Let NIDA not be responsible for another death on the farm. The challenge we had was to convince employees to return to work and it was not an easy task, but we need to guarantee safety. We need to make sure that we have two employees at every cattle post because if there is any threat and there’s only one person, we will not be informed of the danger there,” he continued.

The ranch has a lot of infrastructure, including the fence and the waterpoints, which were damaged by elephants.

“Management has allowed us to recruit 30 temporary employees to assist in tracking the cattle and fixing the fence. The water infrastructure is critical in order to manage the drinking of cattle on a daily basis,’’ he said.

Iipumbu said during her visit to the ranch on Friday that “it is literally five days since you have been appointed, and I see KCR overturning the situation. I know you have been in the agriculture sector for long. We have hope, and we are going to make sure that we overturn this situation.”

The minister told employees that the challenges they were narrating weren’t new to her, and have already been taken to the doorstep of NIDA.

“We should stay, see the situation through and make a difference. I really appreciate that it’s never easy for an employee who feels they are not listened to, who feel despite their cry, nobody cares to stay on and to believe and hope that someday somebody is going to listen to them. I really appreciate you. But we are also aware of the fact that we have our own internal challenges of leadership at NIDA, both at managerial and board level for years,’’ she observed.

2022-08-19  John Muyamba

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