The continuation of operations for Farmers Meat in October 2022 was officially marked on 3 August 2023, with the abattoir hosting an event to formally re-open its doors. A subsidiary of the Hartlief Group – which is part of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group portfolio – Farmers Meat underwent a N$3 million investment in its reopening as well as a N$40 million investment in working capital.
Delivering his keynote address at the event was Honourable Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, who emphasised the importance of unlocking the economic potential of the country’s agricultural sector. Schlettwein: “We fully acknowledge the importance of the agriculture sector in addressing food and nutrition security as well as decent livelihoods. Our collective policy and strategic interventions over the years 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.
“[Farmers Meat] have invested in value addition activities that transform our economic structure, moving away from dependence on the trade of raw materials and toward trading in finished products. This is GROWTH AT HOME at its best and needs to be replicated in various economic sectors.
“With the opening of this facility, sheep and other small stock producers are challenged to upscale their annual production output in order 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.
On its part the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform renews its commitment to providing support services such as veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary services in support of operations of this nature and the related supply chains.”
Governor of Hardap Region, Hon. Rev. Salomon April explained the commitment from his council in creating employment opportunities and enhancing infrastructure despite challenges such as financing for commercial farmers. He further stressed the need for public-private sector collaboration. April: “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.
“Today, we also 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.”
Also speaking at the re-opening was O&L Group Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Hartlief Group, Wessie van der Westhuizen, who focused on themes of sustainable development, technological advancement, and inclusive growth. Van der Westhuizen: “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 in the country, 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.
“Furthermore, through Farmers Meat the exceptional quality of Namibian lamb is showcased and enjoyed on an international scale. We have already begun exporting deboned lamb to Norway, and we are on the verge of exporting our first consignment to Germany (EU) and the Bermuda island (Caribbean Islands). However, to sustain this infrastructure the plans to export to China, the Middle East and the United States need to be expedited by Government. Obtaining export status opens the doors to lucrative international markets, the SADC region and the wider African market, presenting tremendous growth opportunities for our business and Namibia as a whole.
“Our ambitions for Farmers Meat are substantial. For the 2023 calendar year, we plan to process 55,000 sheep. Looking ahead, in 2024, we aim to handle between 100,000 and 170,000 sheep, which will require further investment. By 2025, we envision reaching full production capacity, processing 280,000 sheep. 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 the 7th of August until the 4th of September 2023 to allow for significant maintenance, improvements, upgrades and investment to the plant.”
Farmers Meat General Manager, Trevor du Toit, ended formalities with a word of thanks: “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 making a positive impact in the Namibian meat industry and specifically the sheep sector.
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.”