NAMIBIA -Namibian farmers has raised concerns with Namibia’s Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, over Namibia Breweries Limited’s (NBL) decision to exclusively sell malted barley to Namibia Dairies.

Murangi, who owns Travena Dairy, argues that this move threatens the collapse of the dairy sector and creates a monopoly in violation of the Namibia Competition Commission Act.

Malted barley, a by-product of brewing, is commonly used as stock feed, and Namibia Dairies has traditionally been the recipient of this product.

However, NBL’s recent decision to sell all used malted barley exclusively to Namibia Dairies has sparked controversy and drawn criticism from Murangi, who sees it as a retrogressive step.

In a letter addressed to Minister Schlettwein, with copies sent to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate, Murangi expressed concern that this exclusive agreement would adversely impact the dairy sector.

Murangi, who supplies fresh milk to government schools and low-income communities, emphasized the potential collapse of his enterprise if NBL does not reverse its decision.

NBL spokesperson Surihe Gaomas-Guchu defended the decision, stating that the brewery aims to streamline spent grain provision through an open bidding tender, and Namibia Dairies emerged as the successful bidder for the 2024 calendar year.

Gaomas-Guchu clarified that up to 30% of spent grain acquired by Namibia Dairies will be sold to other farmers, and arrangements will be made for direct purchases by farmers with consignments of less than two tonnes.

However, Murangi raised concerns about potential abuse of the new arrangement, highlighting difficulties faced by some milk suppliers in accessing grain from Namibia Dairies.

Daniel Mahua, the executive manager of the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union, voiced worries over the impact of NBL’s decision on farmers and the country’s food security.

He emphasized the need for support during the challenging times faced by dairy farmers, and the union plans to engage with NBL to reconsider its decision.

The controversy underscored the broader challenges faced by Namibia’s dairy sector, struggling with a price-cost squeeze that has led to a decline in the number of milk producers over the years.

The sector’s survival is at stake, and stakeholders are calling for measures to protect and sustain local dairy farming.

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