Guest Contributor | Feb 20, 2024 | 0
Farmers Meat has already made a remarkable impact since reopening – O&L Group Chief Executive
Farmers Meat’s resumption of operations in October 2022 was officially commemorated this week, with the abattoir hosting a function to formally reopen its doors, according to Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group.
Farmers Meat, a subsidiary of the Hartlief Group and part of the O&L Group portfolio invested N$3 million in its reopening as well as N$40 million in working capital.
“The reopening of Farmers Meat in October 2022 has already made a remarkable impact. As the biggest sheep abattoir operation in Namibia and the only approved exporter of sheep meat, we have paid over N$75 million to sheep producers between October 2022 and June 2023. This showcases our commitment to supporting local farmers and fostering economic development within our communities,” said Wessie van der Westhuizen, Chief Executive of the O&L Group and Chairman of the Hartlief Group, at the event.
Van der Westhuizen, who highlighted subjects like sustainable development, technical advancement, and inclusive growth, stated that the “exceptional” quality of Namibian lamb is showcased and enjoyed worldwide through Farmers Meat. “We have already begun exporting deboned lamb to Norway and are about to export our first consignment to Germany (EU) and Bermuda (Caribbean Islands),” he said.
However, he affirmed that to sustain the infrastructure, the government should accelerate plans to export to China, the Middle East, and the United States. Obtaining export status opens the doors to lucrative international markets, the SADC region, and the African market, presenting tremendous growth opportunities for our business and Namibia, according to him.
“Our ambitions for Farmers Meat are substantial. For the current calendar year, we plan to process 55,000 sheep. Moreover, in 2024, we intend to handle between 100,000 and 170,000 sheep, which will require further investment. By 2025, we envision reaching full production capacity and processing 280,000 sheep, and this will necessitate additional investments, which we are only too willing to make. Hence, the abattoir will be temporarily shut down for the period from 07 August until 04 September this year to allow for significant maintenance, improvements, upgrades, and investment in the plant,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, Hon Calle Schlettwein, delivered a keynote address, outlining the importance to lock the economic potential of the country’s agricultural sector.
“The government fully acknowledges the importance of the agriculture sector in addressing food and nutrition security as well as decent livelihoods. Our collective policy and strategic interventions previously have gradually shifted our country from being an exporter of live animals to becoming an exporter of value-added agricultural goods, and Farmers Meat plays a big part in this collective effort,” he said.
Farmers Meat, according to the minister, has invested in value-added activities that are transforming the country’s economic structure, shifting away from dependence on raw material commerce to trading in finished products. “This is growth at home at its finest, and it should be replicated throughout various economic sectors.”
“With the opening of this facility, sheep and other small stock producers are challenged to upscale their annual production output to meet the throughput requirements for this facility and the sturdy domestic and export demand for the products. The benefits for the local economy and the town of Mariental are significant and emerge through a sturdy demand for goods and services, local sourcing, and other related industries such as logistics and packaging,” remarked Schlettwein.
The Ministry of Agriculture, for its part, reaffirmed its commitment to provide support services such as veterinary, sanitary, and phytosanitary services in support of such operations and the related supply chains.
The Hardap Governor, Hon Rev Salomon April, explained the commitment from his council to create employment opportunities and enhance infrastructure despite challenges such as financing for commercial farmers. He further stressed the need for public-private collaboration. “We have a vast pool of employable individuals within our working-age population, which presents an advantage for industries looking to establish a presence here,” April said.
“At this occasion, we express our heartfelt gratitude to Hartlief and the O&L Group for their investment in our region. Their commitment and capital injection have not only brought economic prosperity but have also created much-needed employment opportunities for our residents. We commend their vision and foresight in recognising the potential of our region and their dedication to contributing to its growth.
“As we celebrate the re-opening of Farmers Meat, we envision a future where our region thrives economically, where our people are empowered and prosperous. Let us work hand in hand, embracing collaboration and innovation to harness the full potential of the Hardap region,” April stated.
Trevor du Toit, General Manager of Farmers Meat, concluded the formalities with a word of appreciation. “We are extremely proud of this achievement and grateful to everyone who made it possible. This reopening marks a significant milestone in our journey, and we look forward to continuing to make a positive impact in the Namibian meat industry, specifically the sheep sector,” he said.
“On behalf of Farmers Meat, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our investors, O&L and Hartlief, for their unwavering support and financial commitment to our project. Your belief in the vision and potential of our abattoir has played an integral role in making our dream a reality.”