NAMIBIA – The Namibian Cabinet has approved the implementation of various short-, medium-, and long-term interventions to address the financial difficulties faced by the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco).

The decision to the approval came in response to reports that Meatco has been struggling to pay cattle producers for livestock deliveries to its abattoir.

According to The Namibian, Meatco owes approximately N$230 million to around 245 commercial farmers, which is in breach of the 30-day payment period agreement.

Namibia Agricultural Union president Thinus Pretorius confirmed that Meatco owed producers an estimated N$320 million, including value-added tax, by the end of September.

In response, the Cabinet has approved a series of measures, one of which is the appointment of an interim board of directors for Meatco to assist in refining and implementing the strategies to turn the corporation’s fortunes around.

The 11-member interim board, chaired by former Agribank CEO Sakaria Nghikembua, will serve for six months, effective from September 1, 2023, to February 28, 2024.

The interim board is already working on developing an operational turnaround strategy, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

The government has also emphasized the importance of Meatco’s stability and its significant contribution to Namibia’s economy.

Resolving the issue of unpaid creditors, particularly cattle producers, is a top priority for the government and the interim board.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic which negatively impacted the demand for the company’s premium products and market realization, Meatco also attributed its financial difficulties to the ongoing drought, which has affected cattle throughput over the past three years.

Meanwhile, the government and the interim board are committed to ensuring that Meatco meets its obligations to its creditors, and they have engaged with various stakeholders, including farmers’ unions, to address the situation.

Meatco has maintained competitive prices for livestock to support primary livestock production, despite its financial challenges.

The financial stability of Meatco is of significant importance, given its role in Namibia’s beef value chain and the broader economy.

Farmers have raised concerns about the impact of Meatco’s financial difficulties on their operations, with some choosing to divert their cattle to auctions due to delayed payments from the company.

The government and the interim board are determined to work together to resolve the challenges faced by Meatco and ensure that outstanding amounts are settled in due course.

This comes after the government has handed over the management of the newly refurbished Rundu Abattoir to MeatCo

This move came in response to a directive from the Cabinet to revitalize the dormant abattoir and establish an official slaughter market for farmers in the northern regions, including Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango East, and Kavango West.