WINDHOEK: Farmers from communal areas, including those resettled in the Rehoboth district, stand to benefit from the Swakara Support Scheme, which offers sheep at subsidised prices and training in the management of swakara sheep.
The Swakara Support Scheme was designed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) through its Division: Livestock Research, in conjunction with other stakeholders to increase the swakara sheep population and pelt output in Namibia.
The objective is to assist communal, resettled and Rehoboth-district swakara farmers through the provision of swakara rams and ewes at subsidised prices, as well as to capacitate them through training in the management of swakara sheep.
According to a media statement issued by the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) and published on its website on Friday, components of the Swakara Scheme are the buying of rams and ewes from the MAWF’s breeding stations; a subsidy on rams and ewes bought at public auctions; and training of beneficiaries at MAWF stations, which include the Gellap-Ost-, Kalahari and Tsumis research stations.
Any individual communal, resettled and Rehoboth-district swakara farmer; a group of the above-mentioned swakara farmers; and aspiring farmers who want to start swakara/karakul farming can apply.
One of the selection requirements is that applicants must be bona fide or aspiring swakara farmers living in the communal, resettlement farming areas of Namibia, including the Rehoboth district in the Hardap Region.
There is no restriction on how long the applicants have been staying or living in that particular area, but preference will be given to applicants with less than 30 swakara sheep, or no swakara sheep at all.
For applicants who apply for animals from research or breeding stations, applicants must have between zero to 70 other small stock units.
Applicants must be Namibian citizens between the ages of 18 and 70, with no criminal record.
Each beneficiary is allowed to benefit once to the maximum of 50 ewes and two rams from the scheme in his or her lifetime.
There are also no restrictions on applicants who apply for subsidies on public auction.
Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa launched the scheme in June this year in Keetmanshoop in the Karas Region.
Meanwhile, a total of 52 215 karakul pelts were offered for sale at an average price per pelt of N.dollars 531,08 during the Swakara auction held on 15 September 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The sale was calculated at an increase of 4.89 per cent against the previous auction held in April 2012, with an average price of N.dollars 506,32.
A total of 39 932 black, 7 106 white, 4 018 grey, 304 brown and 855 multi-coloured pelts were offered.
The highest price paid for a black pelt was N.dollars 1 980, while the highest price paid for a white pelt was N.dollars 1 283,66.
Greece bought the most pelts (8 745), followed by Italy and Germany. The top producer with 389 pelts was Lovedale Farming CC at Helmeringhausen, a settlement in southern Namibia in the Berseba Constituency in the Karas Region. It is located 200 kilometres north-east of Luderitz.
Early this year, the Namibian Government agreed to officially change the breed name of Namibian karakul sheep to swakara.
According to the Kopenhagen Studio, the largest fur auction house in the world, this has been a long sought for decision by the swakara Board of Namibia, which for the last couple of years has worked strategically to ensure this name change and thereby the benefits it will provide to Namibian farmers in the future.
The name change from karakul to swakara emphasises that pelts from Namibian karakul farmers should be recognised for what they are – pelts from sheep with characters that differ from pure-bred karakul.
This is a very exclusive production with few pelts, which are only sold at Kopenhagen Fur’s auctions in April and September each year.