The country’s meat processing company, Meatco, and the University of Namibia (Unam) has signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate and engage in training, research and innovation activities that will promote the achievement of each party’s respective mandates while contributing to the economic growth in the country.
The five-year agreement will moreover enable both parties to venture into the investment of capacity building by sending Meatco’s farmers to the university’s various training facilities for short training courses on sustainable farm-related aspects, Meatco’s CEO Mwilima Mushokabanji, speaking at the signing ceremony on Tuesday, said the signing of the agreement marks a unique partnership between the two institutions.
“From our perspective – and as an implementer, we are concerned about profitability, competitiveness and the sustainability of the sector at large,” Mushokabanji said.
However, he said, the corporation cannot drive these aspects without continuous interaction with universities like Unam that have the responsibility of conducting extensive scientific research.
“We are privileged to associate ourselves with the university because it has one of the most skilled agriculture faculty in the country,” he said.
Mushokabanji added that due to Meatco’s business model of operating abattoirs and recently going to start operating the Rundu abattoir, it is critical that the corporation works closely with the university veterinarians to, among others, assist the corporation in dealing with difficult pertinent industry-related issues.
On his part, Unam’s vice chancellor Kenneth Matengu said the five-year agreement commits to building the capacity of students in line with the needs of the livestock sector and includes targeted skills upgrading for Meatco stakeholders.
He said, it furthers seeks to develop the pasture seed sector for Namibia through research and seed production and to develop livestock feed resources through sustainable rangeland management strategies, as well as promoting home-grown drought responses and climate change adaptation.
Matengu noted that the livestock sector makes up 90% of the total agriculture sector in Namibia and supports a large sector of the country’s population, contributing 3.5% of Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product.
“Unam recognises Meatco as a meat processing and marketing entity and Unam has over time built its human capacity, expertise, facilities and networks to be able to respond to partners and stakeholders such as Meatco,” he noted.
Matengu also said Unam, through its Neudamm campus, has 10 000 hectares of land with large and small stock, a piggery, meat processing unit and a food science and technology laboratory for training, research and product development.