Explore Alternative Livestock Markets – Union

THE Namibia National Farmers’ Union last week called on the government to aggressively explore alternative livestock markets, as communal farmers are severely affected by new veterinary regulations imposed by South Africa.

Late last year, South Africa imposed stringent veterinary conditions for Namibian livestock exports, especially those intended for direct slaughter and feedlots.

Currently, all animals exported to South Africa have to comply with the new permit regulations in operation from 1 May 2014, after the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedure in that country.

“The unilateral imposition of the decision did not give communal farmers adequate space or time for alternative preparations,” Vetuundja Kazapua, NNFU’s Programme Coordinator for Livestock and Business Aice, said during the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF) public dialogue on the future of the livestock industry in light of the new veterinary requirements by South Africa.

He said complying with the new export regulations, such as the testing of blood for Brucella, among other diseases, is a challenge for farmers due to a lack of camps for isolating vaccinated livestock from the rest of the herd before marketing.

Kazapua said facilities and equipment to test animal samples in a short period of time is also a challenge, and so marketing activities such as auctions and the issuance of permits have come to a standstill andor being cancelled.

The unionist said the prices of animals have dropped significantly since the new regulations were announced, and he urged meat companies such as Meatco, Witvlei Meat and Brukkaros Meat Processors to expand the local slaughter and feedlot capacities in order to accommodate local produce.

“It is time to explore the potential of Green Scheme projects to make room for fodder production,” he suggested.

Communal farmers must also change their production systems from weaners to oxen, where possible, and South Africa should reconsider its position on animal importations.

On 10 June this year, South African livestock stakeholders held a meeting and several resolutions were made regarding the Standard of Operating Procedure.

It was decided that the import requirement will be streamlined to facilitate trade, while safeguarding South African animals’ health status.

They also agreed in principle that livestock destined for abattoirs and feedlots may be handled differently from those meant for breeding purposes. This is likely to happen from 1 July this year.

“The single Standard Operating Procedure will cover cattle and sheep destined for slaughter, and a serious concern to us is the omission of goats from the exemption,” Kazapua stressed.

He said producers of goats destined for the South African markets are still facing serious problems as the animals can only be delivered live. So other markets seem to be the long-term solution.

Namibia exports up to 160 000 weaners, 90 000 sheep and 240 000 goats to South Africa as per that country’s requirement.

Nampa

Source : The Namibian