Meatco, producers take reconciliatory path

By Hilary Mare

THE newly appointed Meatco board and management have embarked on a countrywide stakeholder engagement drive in a bid to smoothen relations with livestock producers.

Expected to end in the North on August 6, the series of meetings began in Gobabis last week, Confidente understands.

Meatco board chairperson Johnnie Hamman last week highlighted the need to improve the relationship with producers to make Meatco great again.

“As the newly appointed board chairperson, I have committed myself to serve this position with true commitment and serve all the producers in this county.   Together with my board, we have been hard at work since we took office on 1 May 2020.  One of the most important stakeholder engagements was to meet the banks and now the producers, which the board considers to be the most critical stakeholder.”

Hamman said he understands the many challenges the farmers are facing such as the devastating drought and reduced throughput to the export abattoir. He stressed the need for the stakeholders to come together and map the way forward to increase livestock throughput.

Producers, who attended the meetings so far, appreciated the immediate engagements the board and management undertook following their appointment and that they did not delay to engage them as producers.

“After this meeting, I have a lot of hope. I am sure that most of the farmers here today feel the same. The biggest thing here is that you (Meatco) have started this thing of setting this precedence, now it is time to live up to it. This type of communication and engagement with the producers is what must carry on. I am also glad that the rumours of the Chinese having interests in purchasing the Okahandja Abattoir have been clarified and nullified with us,” said producer, James Tromp from Hochfeld.

Another producer, Albert Hinjou who resides in Otavi said: “The meeting went pleasantly well and we hope Meatco will not take another five years before coming back to engage us again. These meetings are very important and we, as farmers, learn a lot from them.”

Former Meatco employee Louise Vermeulen echoed the same sentiments saying the meetings are fruitful.

“I am seeing the ideas we had back then when I was a Meatco employee being realised now.  I am proud to still associate myself with Meatco. I can see difficult times lying ahead but, at the same time, I am positive that the strategies and plans shared here with us will bring about the much-needed change for the producers. I have absolute trust in the new board as well as the new management and the reshuffling at the executive level that took place,” said Vermeulen.

Another producer, Eeni Kopp also weighed in on the engagements saying: “I think the presentation was good. I also think that without Meatco the Namibian cattle industry will not persevere, as it has always been the price stabiliser in the country and an important role player in agriculture. Should Meatco cease to exist, other abattoirs, as highlighted, will set cattle prices to their advantage. I, therefore, think it is important that Meatco continues to exist within this sector.”