Meatco Foundation’s successes
The Meatco Foundation, the corporate social investment vehicle of Meatco, was established to leverage all the developmental work that Meatco Namibia has been carrying out amongst cattle farmers and communities it operates in. Kingsley Kwenani, CEO of the foundation, gave the Economist an overview of the activities the foundation has been involved in and touched base on the need to enhance communal farming, including the work that has been carried out particularly north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF).
Said Kwenani, “The foundation’s main objective is to promote and support improvements of social economic conditions in rural areas in the livestock industry of Namibia. The focus in communal areas by the foundation is mainly to improve the socio-economic conditions of these communal livestock farmers to bring them on par with their communal counterparts.”
For the year under review, the foundation has been engaging with communities in Otjitjikua in the Omusati Region, Omuramba in the Kunene Region, the Mangetti Farms and Okongo in the Kavango West Region. Kwenani did however point out that the focus was not only concerned with helping farmers north of the VCF, but also communal areas across the country. “The foundation aims at significantly improving cattle genetics, overall animal condition and reproductive health whilst commercialising livestock farming in these areas. The improvement in cattle genetics will also improve the volumes and quality of beef, enabling farmers to receive higher prices for their stock. We anticipate that this will in turn lead to improved livelihoods,” said Kwenani about the potential of farming north of the VCF.
According to Kwenani, the most significant challenge was leveraging donor funding, with the country having achieved middle-income status. Other challenges he mentioned were related to some of the priorities that needed support in the communities the foundation was actively involved in.
Kwenani added that the foundation was able to drill two boreholes, supplying eight water tanks, eight water troughs and eight water points for domestic use to eight small farmers on a 2,500 hectare farm leased from government for a period of 99 years. “Individual farmers own from 30 head of cattle to 110 cattle each. Access to water on these farms ranged from between 7km to 20km. Farmers before had to move their cattle on hoof on a daily basis, and sometimes only every second day. Quality of cattle was thus compromised and as a result, income from sales to Meatco was not optimal for farmers as quality determines the price farmers are paid. To date these farmers have built up their stocks with an average of more than 150 heads per famer,” Kwenani said. A multi-purpose crush-pen has been constructed in the Omuramba community in the Kunene Region. The crush-pen, Kwenani noted, had reduced the distance farmers had to travel for cattle marketing facilities by up to 70 kilometres. Since its formation in 2011, approximately 3,000 farmers have benefited through initiatives led by the foundation, and close to N$2.5 million has been spent on farmers north of the VCF.