After the establishment of the Multipurpose Crush Pens at Helena. Several meetings were conducted with the community to finalise the operational modalities at the crush pen. On the 13 of October a community meeting was hosted by the Regional Councillor and the traditional Authorities to finally inform the community of the completed project. At this meeting it was resolved that the community select a committee that will run the affairs of the crush pen on behalf of the community.
With the support of the Regional Government representatives and the Traditional Authority, the committee was selected and in turn created a welfare organisation with the name Tueripura Welfare Organisation. This organisation was then mandated to run the affairs of the crush pen, ensure that the facility is maintained and functional on behalf of the community.
The organisation was also registered with the Omaheke Regional Farmers Union (ORFU) and therefore allegeable to host and conduct auctions.
Since livestock Auctioning in the country is still regulated by the Directorate of Veterinary Services, The organisation has to come up with a plan for hosting auctions with the Directorate of Veterinary Services for control purposes (DVS). These are the recognised official Auction days that are regulated and endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture and included in the Regional Auction calendar that is distributed to all buyers and farmers in the Region.
Apart from these diaries auctions, individual buyers are also allowed to arrange special auctions with the committee depending on the availability of the facility.
The official auction days as approved by the Ministry of Agriculture are;
- 04-15 January 2017
- 18-19 April 2017
- 04-05 September 2017 and
- 18-19 December 2017
On the 04th to 05th January 2017, the Tueripura Welfare Organisation managed to host an auction, where a total of 393 cattle were sold at the auction. The average price of cattle sold was +- N$2,470 and the majority of the cattle presented for the auction were heifers and weaners.
The sales at the crush pen generated a total of N$970,750 in cash. This in essence represents the total of wealth released from the walking assets that the farmers in this area could not release and with the aid of the established crush pen this wealth was unlocked and therefore contributing towards improving livelihoods of the communal farmers.
A total of N$19,415 was generated in commission from the facility that the committee made and invested for use in the maintenance of the facility.
The hosting of the auctions saw a number of different entrepreneur created who also showcase their products to sell to the famers. The Auction facility then become a one stop shop. Where women could sell cooked food to the participants at the auction.
Auction day 04th to 05th September 2017, the second auction was hosted on this day and in total 302 cattle were presented at the auction. On this particular day Meatco Purchase all the 302 on offer. A total of N$1,507.10 was release to the community and a total of N$29,830 in commission generated by the committee managing the crush pen.
The Facility has to date benefited different stakeholders who have expressed their gratitude. These stakeholders includes among others;
- Meatco since they are procuring cattle from the facility
- Community members through the utilisation of the facility as a training venue, economic, and also market place.
- Directorate of Veterinary Services as an efficient facility for their routine vaccination campaigns
- Farmers have expressed their appreciation of the facility as the distance that they could cover to bring their cattle for auction was reduced greatly.
- The facility allows farmers to bring the animals well in advance as there is provision of water and thus improved the animal welfare and handling of the animals. Animals on the day of the auction have very little stress as they would have already rested.
- Animal handling is of high standard as the crush pen was built in such a way that they do not have to struggle with the movement of cattle from one holding pen to the other.
- The loading and offloading of the cattle is very convenient as they can transport their cattle with any form of transport and are able to offload with easy.
- Their mobilisation time of the cattle they bought have been reduced. Buyers have saved two days of time and money, since the animal handling is of high standard when loading and offloading cattle at the facility.
- For Meatco normally it takes about 2 to three days to load the cattle at an auction. This time around at the Helen crush pen, Meatco served two days of loading and handling cattle and thus have served Meatco cash amounting to N$103,000 as servings.
The community are now utilising the facility as an economic place where young entrepreneurs, and women are selling their products during the auction. Thus returning the income back in the community. Farmers are now able to buy their basic needs at the auction thus saving them money of travelling to town to purchase their basic needs.
The Directorate of Veterinary Services has expressed their appreciation of the facility. They have been using the facility for training farmers on animal husbandry and for their routine vaccination. The DVS are very happy with the state of the act the crush pen was designed taking cognisance of the animal welfare. Animals are handled at this facility with minimum stress and the animal movement in and around the facility is quicker. Thus making their work fast and efficient. There currently now plans to declare the facility as a EU compliant facility where cattle purchased from this facility will qualify directly to be sold to EU markets.
The case of Helena Multipurpose Crush Pen is proving to be the winning Strategy for improving cattle marketing in communal areas and communal farmers’ commercialisation.
It is evident that an integrated approach is likely to underpin an efficient livestock marketing system. This entails an understanding of farmer livelihoods (household characteristics) and their development in a much more explicit context of community dynamics. The decentralization of livestock markets facilities and the wider dissemination of well updated information to the communal farmers by the government and other stakeholders plays a role in improving communal farmers’ access to formal cattle markets. The timely provision of market information has strengthen farmers’ negotiating ability during trading. This is proving to be the case at the Helena Multipurpose Crush Pen.
The majority of the livestock buyers, auctioneers, speculators and individual buyers are now engaging the community and thus enhancing the negotiating ability of the farmers on their livestock. The situation is proving to be a winning strategy towards livelihoods improvement and commercialisation of communal farmers.
The easy access to a crush pen and auction place by young people and women had a major advantage to the small farmers and their families because they are no longer need to travel over long distances to reach livestock auctions. The roles are now reversed as buyers, procurement teams, speculators and private buyers are now taking it upon themselves to travel to the Helena Multipurpose Crush Pen for livestock trading. A winning formula for farmers as they cut travelling cost and hence gain better prices from their cattle.
Meatco Foundation will continue to gather information on the impact of the facility on the community and develop case studies. Which will be widely distributed.