Namibian farmers back Meatco’s claim for bigger Norway quota
From namibian.com.na - Dec 2nd 2013, 09:30
The Meat Board and unions representing the interest of farmers in the country have backed the country’s biggest meat producer, Meatco, to request that it should get the biggest shares of the 1 600 tonnes export quota to Norway.
The outcome of a meeting involving members of the Livestock Producers Organisation, the Namibia Agriculture Union and the Namibian National Farmers Union agreed the Meatco being the biggest meat producer must get the biggest quota of the export. Witvlei Meat, the other company that exports to Norway was the only stakeholder with an opposing view.
The quota is currently allocated on a 50/50 basis between Meatco and Witvlei Meat. A third company, Brukaross Meat Processors, has also submitted a bid to be allocated a quota next year.
The selling price in Norway is 72% higher compared to the price achieved for the same product mix in Europe.
Last Wednesday, The National Livestock Marketing Committee of the Meat Board met with industry stakeholders to formulate an industry position on the issue. The outcome was that the quota allocation should be divided proportionally to the average cattle throughput of an export abattoir over the last three years.
The Meat Board is preparing a submission on this decision, that will be sent to the, Ministry of Trade and Industry, which will submit the final document to Cabinet to make a decision. The Norway quota allocation should have taken place in October but disputes between Meatco and Witvlei over the issue have delayed the decision. Other countries that can export meat to Norway are Botswana and Swaziland. Following an export ban from Botswana last year due to an outbreak of animal disease, Meatco increased its export by taking over the Botswana quota.
“The quota belongs to Namibia as a country, not to a specific company or individual businessman. It’s your property as Namibian farmers and it is a precious property. The quota will live on, year by year, independent of the national distribution. Nortura will, as a professional importer patiently await the distribution decision by the Namibian government and thereafter approach the companies holding export licences and offer business relations,” said Gunnar Dalen, a Director for Nortura, a producer owned co-operative, when he commented on the issue last week.
Gunnar said Nortura hopes the government will distribute the quota in a way which maximises the benefits for all farmers in Namibia.
Giving its view on the issue, Meatco said its position on the allocation of the quota was that that it should be proportional to throughput and performance during past years and that the process should be equitable and fair, rather than equal.
“Meatco strongly holds this position, because the organisation is mandated to act in the interest of all livestock producers in the country. When the Norwegian Government allocated the quota, it was with the intention that the largest number of livestock producers should benefit from it. As a consequence the Namibian economy would also benefit,” said senior executive, Vehaka Tjimune.
“With the current equal sharing formula, the wider range of producers, including those in the northern communal areas, receive the least benefit from the arrangement,” Tjimune argued.
Statistics show that Meatco slaughtered an average of 119 973 cattle between 2009 and 2012, which represents 92,62% of export slaughters. Comparatively Witvlei Meat slaughtered on average 9 564 during the same time, representing 7,38% of export slaughters.
The cattle marketed to Meatco over the past five years came from more than 10 000 producers from all over the country. In 2012, 2 748 producers marketed their cattle to Meatco.
“When the comparatively small volume of cattle Witvlei slaughtered is considered and the number of producers actually delivering these cattle, it is clear that the vast majority of the country’s producers are getting the short end of the stick with the current quota allocation of 50/50,” said Tjimune.
“These producers are not getting their fair share,” he said. “It effectively means that only 50% of the quota is going to more than 90% of Namibian livestock producers, while at the moment, the remaining 50% is divided up by the remaining 10% of livestock producers and Witvlei’s shareholders.”
In 2010 Cabinet appointed the Meat Board of Namibia to facilitate and administer the process of allocating the Norway export quota to qualifying export abattoirs.
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