LÜDERITZ – Uukumwe Youth Empowerment Consortium (PTY) Ltd, which built and opened its Cape fur seal processing factory in Lüderitz last year with the aim of enabling the processing of seal pelts, meat, blubber and its by-products, recorded well progress for its second season since it started operating.
Uukumwe’s acting general manager Leefa Munashimue told New Era that the seal harvesting season lasts for four months and runs from the 1st of July until the 15th of November annually. Munashimue indicated that this season was better than last year although there are still some challenges that generally accompany new entrants to the market.
Despite this, the company’s board and management are committed to addressing the teething issues in order to realise the company’s vision of providing quality Namibia cape fur seal products to the world.
The board of Uukumwe is particularly pleased that the company’s shareholders agreed to reinvest its dividends into the factory. Support from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development and other industry stakeholders also helped the company greatly.
The ministry of fisheries is lauded for providing an annual refresher course to all seal stakeholders, usually before the start of the season and informs and equips the employers and employees on the harvesting guidelines and regulations in line with Namibia’s Marine Act 2000.
Munashimue explained that the factory produces and sells seal skins/pelts, oil, meat, genitalias and kidneys to the local, African and Asian markets. The seal skins/pelts are processed in three forms: wet and salted form, natural, dyed and lastly plucked and sheared according to the customers’ specifications.
The seal blubber is cold pressed and cooked and can be used for food and industrial use. Seal oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids for maintaining good health and among many things helps to support brain, eye and nerve development in children 2 years of age and younger. Seal oil is traditionally known to assist with skin burn and infections.
The seal meat is cooked, dried and crushed into small pieces. This is suitable for high protein animal feed. In the future, the company is looking at the possibility of processing the meat for human consumption, as is the case in Canada and the East.
The seal genitalia are dried and packed to be used as medicine and for human consumption, as in the case of Asia, it is used to cure impotence and enhances male sexual performance.
The seal kidneys are dried and in the future, the company will look at crushing the kidneys into powder for consumption in the health sector. This particular organ is known to cure impotence and bone.
She stated that the factory will start processing its seal skins as from January 2019, with skin processing machines that were jointly provided in partnership with the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development through its Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme (IUMP).
Munashimue indicated that, the company has only completed construction of phase one of its factory mainly consisting of its primary production and that phase two is focused on value-addition, which will include an Oil Refinery amongst others. The factory has the capacity to process 40 000 seals per season and has employed 36 employees, when ran at its optimum will create more than 50 direct and indirect additional jobs.