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Home / Farmers alarmed by Meatco sabotage talk…northern producers bemoan reputational damage

Farmers alarmed by Meatco sabotage talk…northern producers bemoan reputational damage

2023-02-28  Edward Mumbuu

Farmers alarmed by Meatco sabotage talk…northern producers bemoan reputational damage

The Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) has expressed their shock at the allegations of alleged Meatco sabotage while northern farmers bemoaned the reputational damage their products may have suffered.

This comes after commercial farmers told Ghanaian authorities that meat from north of the red line is not fit for their market. 

The organisation – affiliated to the Namibia Agriculture Union – was reacting to several New Era reports into the state of affairs at Meatco. 

Chiefly, the LPO took issue with information suggesting that commercial farmers – mainly whites – wrote to authorities in Ghana to discontinue importing beef from Namibia’s Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), as they claim it is infected with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

This is despite confirmation by several sources, including Meatco’s CEO Mwilima Mushokabanji and agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein, that there are indeed efforts to sabotage Meatco’s NCAs operations.

Meanwhile, secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League Ephraim Nekongo said northern farmers are already disadvantaged by the veterinary cordon fence (red line) and yet they are being blocked by those advantaged by the “apartheid regime”.

Nekongo is, therefore, calling for an act of unison, to repel the “ugly face” of monopoly that he feels seeks to advance the economic benefits of one race at the expense of the other.

“We cannot continue to sit back and watch economic oppression perpetuated against our people under the black administration,” he grunted.

The youth leader has spoken against a similar issue not so long ago when he threatened to mobilise the youth to forcibly grab the land occupied by the previously advantaged groups if they fail to cooperate.

Following New Era’s reportage on the attempts by commercial farmers that have been widely described as regressive, Schlettwein said the allegations were brought to his attention through the Bi-national Commission meeting held in Accra late last year. 

“These offensively false and malicious representations were allegedly propagated to Ghanaian authorities by a group of Namibian commercial farmers, whose identity is still unknown to the ministry. However, the ministry is in consultation with the relevant Ghanaian authorities to verify these allegations,” read a section of Sunday’s media statement.

The minister added: “It was resolved that they are groundless and the matter was thus resolved and continued market access for Namibian beef into Ghana remains uninterrupted. We can, thus, confirm that the Namibian beef exports from the northern communal areas (NCAs) do not carry FMD and pose no risk of introducing the disease in the market countries in particular the Ghanaian market.” 

In a strongly worded statement released yesterday, however, LPO branded the allegations malicious, among other things.

“The disturbing allegations published in the New Era of 23 February 2023, claim that ‘commercial white farmers delivered a letter to Ghanaian authorities that states that the meat they import from Namibia’s NCAs was not fit for human consumption as it is infected with FMD’, should be condemned in the strongest possible way, as it intends to create division within the livestock sector, especially among producers in the north and south,” its chairperson Thinus Pretorius said in the missive.

The agriculture sector, he said, must unite and not be divided, as it is the foundation of nation building and national unity.

 “Suggestions that ‘white farmers’ want to see the demise of Meatco are therefore malicious and absurd with the only intention to shift the attention away from genuine concerns and efforts to address the issues that might be obstacles in the way of Meatco to benefit all meat producers in every corner of the country,” he continued.

In fact, the LPO is alarmed by the reports as it understands the crucial role Meatco plays in the livestock value chain insofar as it concerns export markets and income to local farmers and Namibia. 

“It will be a sad day if allegations such as these, succeed in dividing producers north and south and across racial lines. We condemn these dividing actions.

“The LPO and various affiliates and stakeholders should continue to find solutions through dialogue to keep Namibian meat the premier brand as recognised internationally,” he added.

 At the time Pretorius’ dictum was being penned, the government was already studying a forensic report into the state of affairs and viability of Meatco. 

“The LPO supports government’s intention for an urgent investigation into this matter, to determine the authenticity and existence of such claim (letter), implicating serious economic sabotage. The culprit(s) should bear the full brunt of their actions,” he said.

He added that LPO is committed to render all assistance to government and its agencies, to protect and promote the Namibian meat brand that will contribute to job security and sustainable income.

“We as an organisation support initiatives relating to the development of both internal and external markets for NCA farmers. In fact, we believe that government, Treasury and the industry should support Meatco NCA to develop a sustainable business-entity to the benefit of farmers in the NCAs. 



LPO enters the fray at a time when talk is rife that there are deliberate attempts concocted to collapse Meatco, to advance private interests. 

 At the heart of the discussion are disgruntled previously advantaged commercial farmers who are said to have approached authorities in Ghana to discontinue importing beef from Namibia, which emanates specifically from the NCAs.

 “They should not be making threats, if it is true that they are undermining that market. [It means] they are undermining the government’s activities because it is the government that has looked for that market, and now they want to destroy it? We really need to intervene seriously. That [threat] is serious,” international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said last week.  

What is more, at a heated meeting at a hotel in Otjiwarongo last month, the farmers in question threatened to stop slaughtering their cattle with Meatco if it does not heed their call and cease its northern operations. 

This is because Meatco’s business in the NCAs is being sustained by profits generated south of the red line, earnings which should instead be ending up in their pockets. 

The farmers, New Era understands, contribute around 90% of the cattle slaughtered by the corporation annually.

It effectively means, if they were to stop slaughtering with the corporation, it could signal the beginning of the end. 


Reputation at stake

Meanwhile, the NCA farmers bemoaned reputational damage their products may have suffered.

One of the long-serving executive members of the Mangetti Farmers Association, Thomas Ndiwakalunga rubbished claims that the meat from the NCAs is contaminated with FMD.

He said such claims are sabotaging the growth of the NCA market.

“We are disturbed by such misinformation. Our meat is very clean and we have veterinary services on this side. We are already working hard enough to penetrate various markets that only benefitted farmers at the southern side of the red line, so that is damaging, false and we are condemning it,” said Ndiwakalunga.

Another disgruntled farmer from the Mangetti area shared similar sentiments.

The farmer, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitiveness of the matter, said their market, as northern farmers is already limited and such claims will do more harm to them.

“The fact that the white farmers approached the Ghanaian authorities and shared fake information will sabotage the rest of the northern farmers and ruin their reputation to other African countries.”

He however disapproved of Nekongo’s statement of grabbing land.

“That is a political statement and we are not politicians but we are asking for an amicable solution and those farmers involved in this should be dealt with by the law,” he commented.

The NCAs cover parts of the Kunene, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango West, Kavango East, and Zambezi regions.

There are an estimated 1.5 million cattle in the NCAs.

The areas, however, do not have access to the lucrative beef markets in the European Union, which is currently reserved for those south of the red line.


2023-02-28  Edward Mumbuu

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