Meatco CEO Mwilima Mushokabanji has said the myth that has dominated the country’s discourse that beef from the Northern Communal Areas cannot be consumed is “a matter of the past”.
Mushokabanji said this last week when he announced the company has exported a consignment of 14 tons of meat from north of the infamous red line to the Ghanaian market for the first time since the dawn of independence 32 years ago.
He was speaking to journalists during a visit by Angola’s Vice President Bonito de Sousa Baltazar Diogo to the Meatco facility in the capital on Thursday.
“The first shipment has already arrived in Ghana, with more on the way. We are also looking at penetrating the Middle East market,” he said.
“We want to make sure that products of the NCA finds its base in the Middle East. We are serious about this and we will continue doing it. We are happy that we are getting support from producers, government and all stakeholders.”
In addition, Mushokabanji said, as part of the corporation’s strategic intervention, the company revoked what is called commodity-based trade to move products from the NCA to the rest of the country.
“Beef in the NCA is being consumed now in the rest of the country,” he said.
He further debunked the popular belief that the NCA lacks sufficient cattle to meet market demand, claiming that the NCAs’ problem is not supply, but rather market access.
“We have got a lot of cattle in the NCAs. The challenge in the NCAs is not supply but downstream, the challenge is access to the market, unlike in the south. We actually have farmers queuing up to slaughter but we can’t manage them,” Mushokabanji said.
Meanwhile, Meatco’s high-quality beef has made Namibia the first country in Africa eligible to export beef to the United States in 2020.
The incredible milestone was a benefit from the duty-free export of beef into the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Under the final approval agreements, Meatco will be exporting boneless raw beef products like primal cuts and beef trimmings as well as chuck and blade. The approval will enable Meatco to send 860 tons in the first year and by the fifth year, Namibia will be able to send up to 5 700 tons per year.
Also, Namibia is a net exporter of beef, especially into the European Union (EU), Norway and the United Kingdom (UK).
According to Namibia’s National Statistics Institution (NSI), Namibia’s agricultural contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (excluding fishing) over the last five years has been just over 4%.
Livestock farming contributes to approximately two-thirds of the agricultural production, with crop farming and forestry making up the remaining third of production.
Meat processing accounts for manufacturing, contributing another 0.2% - 0.4% to GDP.
The livestock sector plays a pivotal role in the Namibian economy, as over 70% of the Namibian population depends on agriculture for their livelihood.