Promoting rural farming

Collaboration to improve socio-economic conditions

Rural farmers are assisted
Improving rural cattle farming

The Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) and other stakeholders have joined forces to promote and support the improvement of socio-economic conditions of the rural livestock sector.

Meatco, together with its corporate social investment foundation; the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry; Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, agricultural unions and some foreign donor organisations are now working hand-in-hand towards the implementation of a co-ordinated programme of support to Namibia's rural livestock secto

Meatco's corporate social investment foundation has joined forces with network organisations - Solidaridad, Danish Coop as donors, and the IRDNC (Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation) - to implement and manage the project to support the improvement of the rural livestock sector in the country.

The project is titled "Sustainable Cattle Production in Namibia", to which Solidaridad provides the 50% of funding, while the remaining funds come from Danish Coop (FDB), Global Protein Solutions (GPS) and Meatco.

The project began in May last year, and is intended for communal farmers in the Kavango, Oshikoto, Omusati and Kunene regions.

It will run until October 2015.

The project is specifically aimed at communal farmers in the northern areas where there is a great deal of poverty.

Most of the local population is dependent on natural resources, which includes livestock. Unfortunately, the cattle population per square kilometre and the cattle/human ratio is indicative of overstocking and overpopulation.

Around 61% of the Namibia Communal Areas (NCA) is communal land, which falls under the leadership of Traditional Authorities and is occupied by subsistence farmers. As its rangelands degrade, the already impoverished residents are becoming increasingly vulnerable to drought and climate change.

Therefore, active interventions are needed to shift towards more resilient land and natural resource use.

However, commercialising cattle for slaughter and treating the pasture as a managed resource, requires a shift in traditional tribal practices and mindset.

The project seeks to enable about 2 400 smallholder communal farmers to sustainably manage their livestock while making them commercially viable.

Unfortunately, the herds in the NCA are generally in a poor condition, under-commercialised and used as status symbols, as financial insurance and a source of food. Since farmers in those areas face difficulties in gaining access to markets, this hinders market-oriented production.

However, market participation has shown to change the asset and insurance function of the animals.

"Through the project, Meatco's corporate social investment foundation has the opportunity to improve cattle genetics, overall animal condition and reproductive health. This is important since the potential is there to commercialise bigger volumes of improved animals for slaughter.

"At the same time, communal pasture can be repaired, sustained and reclaimed through movable corrals, herding techniques and selective grazing. The betterment of cattle genetics will also lead to better volumes and quality of beef from the cattle, generating higher prices for the farmer," said corporate communication officer Neu-Nique Williams.

This will in turn lead to an improved livelihood of people.

The project will reach out to around 800 farmers each year, encouraging each of them to produce four or five extra cattle for slaughter.

The total amount of additional cattle procured will be about 4 000 a year, which amounts to roughly N$12 million derived from cattle sales.

So, three years down the line, the total benefit will amount to more or less N$36 million in additional revenue that has flowed into the area.

"We expect the increased income will give farmers a disposable income, with this money being used to reduce food insecurity and to send children to school. In this way, we hope to contribute towards a reduction in poverty in rural areas," read the statement.

When the project comes to an end in October 2015, Meatco will continue with activities to promote sustainability.

 

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