One of Namibia’s prominent farmers Albert Tjihero has urged communal and commercial farmers to throw their weight behind the Meat Corporation of Namibia.
Tjihero said new corporations are being formed to counter Meatco and black farmers should be careful not to be fooled by these “newcomers”, as they do not have the interest of the black farmers at heart.
“Meatco has the interest of black farmers at heart. Let us fully support them. Let’s also fully support the Witvlei abattoir. These are institutions that have our interest at heart,” he implored fellow black farmers.
“If Meatco closes its doors, it is we, the black farmers, who are going to suffer.” He also called upon government to fully support Meatco for government to empower black farmers in the process. Tjihero further called on government to help fight tribalism, which he said is prevalent in the farming sector – and if it is not addressed, it will have a detrimental effect on the sector.
“There is tribalism in the sector: whites on one side and blacks on the other side. This needs to be addressed; you should work as one for the development of the sector,” Tjihero said.
Furthermore, Tjihero also called for the extension of the Agribank loans payment period from the current 25 years to 50 years.
“The 25-year payment period is not working; black farmers are losing their farms – the farms are going back in the colonial hands, defeating the purpose of blacks owning land. So, I am urging government to consider increasing the payment period to 50 years. This is doable; Botswana is doing it,” said Tjihero yesterday.
He said if these things are not addressed, he does not see a future for any young black person who wants to make a living out of farming in this country.
“The entire system – from acquiring a loan from Agribank or elsewhere to procurement, marketing and auctions – has been designed to leave the communal farmer out in the cold. It is just impossible to buy a farm and pay off the debt under the terms of an Agribank loan,” said the well-respected Okorusengo Brahman stud breeder.
Tjihero said, with the current price structure of farms, it is impossible for an aspiring black farmer to acquire a deposit of some N$3 million, take out a massive loan to pay off the outstanding amount, and still have money to buy at least 300 animals as a startup to livestock farming.
“If such aspiring black farmers do not own a lucrative business or have a very wealthy family, he or she is doomed. And if they can make the start-up, they will live in debt till the day they die,” he said.