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Meatco is here for the farmers says Rukoro

Meatco CEO, Vekuii Rukoro has steered the national meat exporter for the past year.

Meatco CEO, Vekuii Rukoro has steered the national meat exporter for the past year.

Meatco Chief Executive Officer Vekuii Rukoro recently spoke about his first year in office, citing his desire to transform the organisation into a leading exporter of cattle, hoping to bring Namibia to a level to successfully compete against leading cattle exporters Colombia and Brazil. Rukoro also touched base on the pivotal role farmers play and the need to engage them as partners, speaking with much pride about Meatco’s transparency in this relationship.
Said Rukoro, “From the outside Meatco looks like any another company, but the importance of Meatco and the critical role it plays in the Namibian meat industry and the economy, can only be understood if you are in the business. If people look at Air Namibia, everybody has an opinion about it, because it involves everyone’s tax money every time a decision is made. It’s almost the same with Meatco. There are so many opinions from so many different sources and many different agendas.

This is because Meatco is so close to many Namibians’ livelihoods. We recognize the significance of the organization in this regard, it is something that I knew when I walked in here over 12 months ago, but something I only now fully understand.”
Meatco’s biggest challenge Rukoro said, is the environment it operates in. “Our biggest challenge is the policy environment in which we operate. If it is more conducive, we would be able to accomplish much more at a quicker rate. The strange thing is that what we do, is consistent with what policy makers want to achieve, especially when you consider the value that we as a Namibian organization add to a renewable source to bring international currency into the country. That money we pay in taxes, on salaries for more than 1000 employees and we pay the rest to the country’s beef producers.”
Added Rukoro, “Something we never let out of sight is that Meatco is here for the farmers. We exist for no other reason than to give cattle producers an offset for their business. We are the channel to the market. We do not exist to make a profit. Everything we do and all the profit we make, find its way back to the farmers’ pockets, whether in the form of producer price or a back payment.”
“So far I have noticed a confrontational relationship between Meatco and some producers. I do not know where and why it started, but those days are numbered. We are here to perform our mission as partners of farmers and to do it in harmony with them. There are still people with a traditional view, who like the way things were done in the past. But times have changed. What worked 20 years ago, 15 years ago or even five years back, doesn’t work any more. To remain competitive, we need to act fast, deliver on time and be comprehensive in the new business environment,” Rukoro said about the changes observed.
Regarding the mentality required to compete globally he said “In this environment, we need to be progressive and commercially operated. We need to embrace new technologies and approaches. The challenges are enormous, and we have to be smart to survive and compete in an international context. Our new approach to procurement, to move back in the value chain and thereby gain more control over the supply of cattle to our business, is consistent with these principles. The difference between us and the big businesses in Brazil and Uruguay is that we take our business forward along with the producers, instead of cutting producers out of the chain.”
“There are those who worry that Meatco will dominate the market. We’re not ashamed to say that it is our goal. We want to be the dominant player in the market. We want to be the organisation where farmers turn to when they want to market their cattle or where customers buy meat. But this power cannot be abused. We can only act to the benefit of livestock producers. We cannot get to our goal at the expense of producers as we cannot achieve it without them,” he added. “What I want to leave behind one day, is a company that is sustainably profitable. I want Meatco at the centre of the meat industry, so that anything in Namibia that has to do with meat must go through Meatco and to use this dominant position to the best advantage of Namibian
livestock producers. This means a business without individual shareholders and a Meatco that is restructured to maximize its commercial success and benefits to the Namibian livestock producers. I want to leave a company that is technologically at the forefront, so that new opportunities locally and internationally can be quickly and fully utilized, so we are competitive now and in the future,” he concluded.

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