|New Swakara board set for success|
|Written by Augetto Graig|
|Wednesday, 16 January 2013 19:27|
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, recently announced the new Karakul Board of Namibia.
Raimar von Hase is the board’s new chairman, and Gabriel Biwa the vice chairman.
Other substantive members are Paulus Apollus and J. Slava Motinga presenting emerging and communal farmers respectively, as well as Julene Meyer on behalf of the Swakara Breeder’s Society, and Dagmar Honsbein from the marketing organization Agra.
Alternate board members are Leon van Wyk, Pieter Hugo, Reinhold Schreiber and Peter Kazmaier with two alternate member positions still to be filled.
According to Mutorwa, the local karakul industry is “very important though relatively small, specifically in terms of job creation and economic activity”.
He urged, the new board to focus on expansion complementing efforts made by the ministry in terms of supporting communal and emerging Swakara farmers.
Mutorwa believes that the time is perfect for aggressive growth of the industry due to excellent international prices for Swakara pelts and Namibia’s unique marketing position.
In his acceptance speech, Von Hase elaborated that the Swakara sheep breed has been developed in Namibia for over a 100 years and is now better than other karakul sheep found in the rest of the world.
Together with Swakara’s concerted efforts to place Namibian pelts in the top-end, environmentally conscience luxury market, farmers have enjoyed “record prices for pelts on a level never seen before”.
More good news is in store in future, according to Von Hase, thanks to insightful government support. This includes the N$396 000 spent on equipping emerging and communal farmers with humane electrical stunning equipment for the euthanasia of Swakara lambs.
Praising the distinct uniqueness of the product bred in Namibia, Von Hase announced that the board intends to seek an official change of the name of the local karakul breed to Swakara. He convened the new board’s first meeting directly after the minister’s presentation.
Currently Namibia hosts about 400 Swakara pelt producers, including commercial, communal (about 30%) and emerging farmers. Some 170 000 sheep are estimated to roam within the country.
Last year, 118 000 pelts were exported under the brand, including a small number from South African farmers who also farm with Swakara sheep. About 2 000 Namibians enjoy direct employment in the industry supporting some 10 000 dependents.