Swakara is the name of a specific breed of Karakul (high-quality lambskin) from Namibia: the species-specific animal welfare certification programme is an integral part of the Furmark® certification system.
Namibia produces around 140,000 pelts per year. These are sourced from rural farmers, the vast majority of whom farm for the meat industry. To oversee the trade, a Swakara board has been established. As part of its oversight of meat production, the board has created a ‘Code of Practice’ to regulate farmers, the Swakara Code of Practice, Standards for the Production and Marketing of Pelts.
The Code of Practice sets out details on the humane euthanasia of Karakul, environmental management, husbandry practices, quality control, traceability/record keeping, animal protection and other key areas. Namibian Karakul farmers initiated the introduction of this code and participated in all stages of its development. Their commitment to the code is based on true ownership.
Namibian farmers understand that the most important factors affecting Karakul welfare are the attitude, skills and behavior of the farmer and the farm workers to provide sound animal husbandry.
To complement the implementation of the Swakara Code of Practice Standards for the Production and Marketing of Pelts, detailed rules for implementation have been developed which incorporates issues such as auditing and compliance.
In order to obtain Swakara code of conduct membership, applicants must complete a detailed form and questionnaire relevant to a number of the key issues identified within the code of practice.
In preparation for joining the Furmark® programme, the Swakara board has increased the amount of education and training for farmers. It has also looked closely at issues of countryside management and predator management to ensure they are wildlife-friendly.
In 2020, independent third-party audits were conducted across a significant proportion of Swakara farms as a requirement of Furmark®.