By Fikameni Mathias
Meat processing and marketing entity, Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) is advising cattle farmers to sell their livestock while it’s still in best condition to get better prices. This comes from an impending drought which have put farmers in limbo.
Rainfall statistics from October to December 2018 were below average in most parts of the SADC region. This below normal average rainfall condition was accompanied with a delay from the onset. Most parts of the region typically start planting in November meaning a prolonged onset delay is expected for a number of areas in the south-western parts of the SADC region.
Parallel to the troubles for crop farmers, livestock farmers are also on the receiving end if not worse, as the grounds for cattle to graze on have not received sufficient rain since last year.
According to Meatco Corporate Communications officer Jethro Kwenani, the entity is currently paying the best price it has in years for producers saying “farmers should sell their animals while it is still in the best condition to get better prices.”
From the Meatco perspective in order to enhance and simplify the producers’ access to the market for their livestock, Meatco has simplified its booking and merit point calculation system, Kwenani highlighted.
The new system does away with delivery agreements and now a contract premium will be paid weekly with settlement. Also, merit points will be calculated in real-time for each booking separately instead of over a period as it was in the past. The merit point calculation will be based only on the reliability, or subsequent accuracy of the load of cattle delivered.
According to Kwenani, Meatco has since March 2018 managed to pay producers well above the South Africa parity price across all grades, excluding fat equalization and weight premiums.
Responding to Meatco’s call for farmers to sell their cows, commercial farmer Ben Meroro said it is a gamble at this time to sell their livestock as the animals are thin and not marketable to bring in profits.
“If you sell now, the cows are already thin and you will make a big loss.
On the other hand, you can keep the cows and they can die of hunger.
Many of the farmers have decided to rather hold on and wait for the rain instead of selling their cows for peanuts” said the concerned farmer.
Another farmer who farms in the Zambezi region says the climatic conditions are the same throughout the entire country but it is even worse for those on the northern side of the Red Line.
James Sankwasa, who is the deputy minister of Works and Transport says that Meatco’s call is just for commercial farmers and those on the southern side of the red line.
“There is no market this side to sell our cattle to, so that message is just for those on the other side,” said Sankwa who reiterated the call by farmers demanding equal access to markets on the northern side of the red line.
“We are suffering the same, but it is worse for us because we cannot sell our livestock here. We are left with having to move our livestock to areas with little grass because selling at the point will not give you any profit,” he said.
According to a report from Meteorological Service Reports on the seasonal rainfall outlook update for 2019, since June 2018 the Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) over the equatorial central and eastern Pacific Ocean were observed to be near to above average and were in warm but neutral ENSO phase by end November 2018.
This means that not all parts of the parcels were in place by mid December 2018 to confirm El Nino but there is a 90% likelihood for the development of a weak El Nino towards end of this year.
The report states that this delayed development of El Nino coupled with positive Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipolar, warm Indian Ocean and time delay involved in El Nino maturity and influence on our rainfall performance opens a bigger window of opportunity for improved rainfall performance during the period January to February 2019 than previously anticipated.
During the period January-February-March (JFM), the country is likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall, which is likely to continue during the FMA (February-March-April) period except over the southern regions where below-normal to normal rainfall is anticipated.