Auctions not for us!
In a previous Khuta I complained about the disappointing prices for smallstock at some auctions, especially in the South and in Damaraland.
Even farmers complained a lot about this. We are giving away our livestock for free, they say. During 2013 with the drought forcing many farmers to sell at firesale prices, the situation got so bad many farmers later refused to send their animals to auction. But that was last year. Since then a fairly good rain season followed, with ample grazing, put smallstock prices continue to disappoint. Remember, last year almost all the farmers I know had to feed their animals so there was a certain minimum below which they could not sell. However, as the situation worsened, they were forced to sell to raise some money to continue to buy fodder for the remaining herd. And this is where greed bit them.
Since the beginning of the year I have been hearing the same complaints from farmers about auctioneers, many farmers being highly excited about the prices at auctions, but the March to April auctions have definitely not been their favourites.
At an auction in April, a farmer was extremely distraught when a goat Kapater weighing in at 43kg was auctioned for N$900, and a Damara sheep weighing 41kg went for N$680. That was daylight robbery! The farmer who brought the goat to the auction expected more than the N$900! He had no other choice than to sell his livestock because of transport costs.
It would be better to sell at a meat market than at an auction, seeing that at meat markets they work according to mass and not according to the condition of livestock, but taking into account that there are so few meat markets in the south, farmers prefer to sell at auctions, seeing that it is too expensive to transport livestock to the capital. The farmers I know regularly keep an eye on the market rate of livestock before going to auctions!
What auctioneers should know is that when farmers attend auctions, they expect good results, not only because they spend massive amounts of money to produce quality livestock, but also because diligence and hard work ought be rewarded.
Farmers spend a lot of money and effort to produce good quality livestock. The rewards they get at auctions are not even sufficient for them to purchase a new ram, for example. Such complaints mostly are from the southern parts of the country. Why is it that most auctions in the south have lower prices than in the northern or eastern parts of the country? At the latest auction in Otjiwarongo, for example, a goat Kapater was auctioned off at N$1,286, weighing in at 51kg. Why do the same prices not apply to farmers in the south? There, the average price for sheep was N$757.
I attended a commercial auction in the capital last week. I was shocked by the results: a Boer goat ewe was auctioned for N$2,500, and a Boer goat ram for N$3000! This type of result elsewhere in the country would certainly motivate farmers to produce livestock of a higher quality.