Local farmers eagerly awaiting SA meat imports’ decision

WINDHOEK: Local farmers will continue to incur losses until Namibia and South Africa (SA) resolve the unilaterally-imposed stringent animal health conditions for exports by the SA government.

Namibia exports approximately 160 000 weaners, 90 000 sheep and 240 000 goats to SA annually.

On 01 May 2014, the SA government imposed stringent veterinary import conditions for the exportation of all Namibian cattle and small stock.

This has caused serious limitations for farmers, especially those with livestock intended for direct slaughter and feedlotting.

The proposed measures could have devastating consequences for the local meat industry since SA’s feedlots, abattoirs and informal goat markets located in Kwazulu-Natal are an important market for Namibian animals.

Namibia requested SA to postpone the implementation of the new veterinary conditions until a solution is found.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) Joseph Iita said in a media statement issued on Monday that SA has reassured the Namibian government that it would find an amicable solution to finalise the aspect of veterinary import conditions by further negotiations before the end of May 2014.

In this regard, a joint technical committee of the two countries has been established, he said.

The MAWF and the Ministry of Trade and Industry held an urgent meeting with the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Pretoria last week to resolve the unilaterally- imposed stringent animal health conditions set by SA on the exportation of Namibian livestock.

The meeting took place upon request of Namibia.

“Both Namibian and South African ministries are cognisant of the negative impact the veterinary conditions have on Namibia’s livestock producers, and are taking all possible measures to ensure livestock trade with South Africa is restored in the shortest possible time,” Iita added.

The proposed new regulations require, amongst others, that livestock destined for South African markets must come from the World Veterinary Organisation or ‘the Office International des Epizooties’ (OIE)-declared lung sickness-free zone, as well as health tests on individual animals for certain diseases and the isolation of animals in quarantine facilities before exporting.

It also includes the individual identification of sheep; proof of vaccinations against anthrax at least 14 days, but not longer than 12 months ahead; proof of the treatment of internal and external parasites; as well as proof of origin of herds free of any sicknesses.