Welcome support for livestock producers
Moses Kandjoze, Procurement Officer for the Windhoek and the central region says that mentorship has become central to Meatco’s procurement function. This is especially true when dealing with emerging and communal producers, although the circumstances between the two producer groups may differ.
One of the recent beneficiaries of Meatco’s mentorship programme is emerging livestock producer and the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau, and his wife Suoma.
Although Meatco has been running an official mentorship programme in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) for the past three years, it has been part of Meatco’s procurement operations for much longer. The same mentorship is provided for emerging and communal livestock producers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence.
Kandjoze has been mentoring Meatco producers for more than four years.
“The primary goal is to help producers,” says Moses, “to get them on the right track regarding viable and sustainable farming practices. Secondary to that is to enhance production to comply with the world class quality requirements that Meatco’s premium export markets demand.”
It’s about sustainability, he says.
“Farming is a business of many facets and it’s about striking a balance between these many facets to make sure that producers are in a position to sustainably deliver cattle. For that to happen the correct systems and practices need to be in place and we are happy to assist.”
Meatco expects its Procurement Officers to look at producers’ production systems and to aid and advise them on opportunities for improvement. Procurement Officers also assist producers in developing slaughter ox production systems, if the producer is so inclined.
Mentorship from Meatco’s Procurement Officers include going out to farms and, with the producers, looking at all aspects of the farming system, including farming practices, rangeland management, herd management, infrastructure needs and supplement programmes.
“After understanding the system as a whole, we sit down and discuss problems, possibilities, things that are being done right and things that are being done wrong. Then we agree on the way forward and how to achieve the producer’s set objectives.”
Kandjoze says the aim is to get producers to farm in line with the best practices. Farm workers are also empowered with the required skills and basic education with regards to proper livestock rearing.
“There is a major shortage of knowledge about farming practices amongst farm workers, especially in the emerging farming community. We try to help them understand how and why certain practices have to be employed in their farming activities.”
Kandjoze assisted Minister Esau and his wife with getting all their cattle registered on the Namibian Livestock Traceability (NamLITS) system after which they conducted a herd statement audit.
“We had to round up all the cattle and check their ear tags one by one to ensure that they appear on the herd statement provided by NamLITS. We detected a couple of animals that were missing and double-checked with NamLITS to make sure everything was correct.
“We then did a clean sweep on the farm and repeated the herd statement audit. Luckily, we found some of the animals and noticed that some were deceased as well,” says Kandjoze.
They also spent time organising the cattle herd, separating and regrouping them according to age, breed and class to ensure that feeding patterns in the cattle groups are similar - this is to ensure optimum grazing management.
They also arranged groups into numbers that accommodate improved bull to cow ratios, which is critical for herd management. To keep the animals in their separate groupings, the internal fences on the farm were identified as infrastructure in need of repair. This is currently being addressed by the minister.
According to Kandjoze, they spent nearly eight days working on the farm to get things right and that the Esau family, as well as himself, are happy with how things are running now.
Kandjoze stay they keep in regular contact to make sure everything is running as it should.
The first cattle from the farm to be slaughtered at Meatco will be delivered on Monday, 18 June – nearly three months down the line and enough time for the cattle to become 90/40 days compliant. Kandjoze has already made arrangements to enter some of the animals into the Meatco slaughter ox competition, a long-standing competition that rewards producers who deliver the highest quality slaughter cattle to Meatco.