Authorities Await Cattle Export Relief

The fragile situation regarding livestock exports to South Africa is now firmly in the hands of a joint technical committee of Namibia and South Africa that was established some two weeks ago in Pretoria.

Livestock farmers continue to incur huge financial losses after exports to South Africa grinded to a halt with the unilateral imposition of stringent animal health conditions by the South African authorities on the export of Namibian livestock to that country. The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa this week said the situation remained dire and wished a solution would be found soon.

After the establishing of the joint committee, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita, said Namibia requested the special meeting where the committee was formed. This was done after the agriculture ministry and the Ministry of Trade and Industry asked the South African authorities in writing to postpone the implementation of the new veterinary requirements until a resolution was found. South Africa committed to finding an amicable solution through further negotiations before May 31. In this regard the joint technical committee of the two countries was established. Iita said both the Namibian and South African governments were cognisant of the negative impact the veterinary requirements were having on Namibia’s livestock producers and were taking all possible measures to ensure livestock trade with South Africa was restored in the shortest possible time. Namibia exports some 190 000 weaners and 100 000 sheep and 240 000 goats to South Africa annually. It is estimated that some 60 000 emerging and communal farmers are mostly suffering from the restrictions that have cut off their livelihood while pressure is mounting on them for bank repayments as they secured loans on grounds of the lucrative export market to South Africa. Namibia produces 400 000 cattle annually, half of it being slaughter oxen and the other almost 200 000 weaners. If these weaners are to stay in Namibia due to the export requirements, the local market will be saturated and farmers robbed of a vital source of income. However, it was agreed at the meeting in Pretoria that the intent of both parties is to make the new requirements not applicable to direct slaughter animals after May 31. This will apply to Namibian weaners exported live to feeding pens but to be regarded as slaughter animals eventually.

Source : New Era