Cattle eartags a financial burden

Some communal farmers in the Omaheke region have complained about the expenses they incurred in buying cattle ear tags, describing it as "daylight robbery" of their money.

The Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary section introduced the ear tags on livestock some years ago as an official mark for tracing stolen livestock, as well as for healthy meat export reasons.

"It is a financial burden on us. We pay for those ear tags, which have no benefits to us. We were not supposed to accept that system," complained a group of five local communal farmers who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity last Thursday.

The farmers explained that the cattle ear tags are not for free, as they buy them in a pair of two at a cost of N$ 16 per cow, starting when a cow is six months old.

"It means that if I have 100 cattle in my kraal, I will pay N$1 600 for ear tags for my cattle. That is a lot of money for a communal farmer whose life depends on livestock," complained one farmer from the Otjinene Constituency.

They claim that the traditional way of marking their livestock with 'branding irons' is very cheap and affordable for communal farmers. They also suggested that cattle ear tags should only be applicable to commercial farmers and to the livestock being taken to auction centres for sale, or to the livestock moved from one place to another.

However, among them was one part-time livestock farmer in Gobabis, Fessy Marenga, who disagreed with their claims.

Said Marenga: "For me, any method that could help me trace my stolen livestock has to be supported in full." In addition to Marenga's views, the Gobabis State Veterinarian, Dr Emmanuel Hikufe, also emphasised the importance of cattle ear tags, saying it is a government policy that all livestock should have double ear tags.

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