Some Relief for Livestock Sector

After months of intense deliberations about the devastating effects of South Africa’s new export requirements for livestock from Namibia, local producers can now look forward to some relief in the first quarter of July.

But with the sugar-coated pill for Namibian cattle and sheep exporters comes a bitter pill for goat exporters, who will still be subjected to the stringent animal health permits in the absence of standard operational procedures (SOPs).

That was the good and bad news delivered by Dr John Shoopala, the acting director of the Directorate of Veterinary Services when he arrived in Windhoek yesterday after high-level discussions with his South African counterparts in Pretoria this week.

While the outcome of the Pretoria meeting made it clear different SOPs would likely be put in place in July for breeding livestock and non-breeding livestock, Namibia’s small-scale and communal goat farmers will still bear the full brunt of the export requirements as the goat farming industry of South Africa was not present at the meeting and made no submission for reviewed SOPs.

Shoopala told New Era yesterday that the outcome of the Pretoria meeting should serve as a wake-up call for Namibian producers, especially goat producers, who are 100 percent reliable on exports to Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa in the absence of local goat abattoirs.

“South Africa is a sovereign country and will protect their own industry. In the absence of feedlots in Namibia, weaner exporters also rely 100 percent on South Africa but the flip side is that this situation adds value to Namibian weaners, it creates employment and it creates investment opportunities,” said Shoopala.

“The six-month-old negotiation process with South Africa to relax their stringent export requirements has pointed out these shortcomings on our own doorstep. I think it should serve as a wake-up call for Namibia to invite more investors to invest in local abattoirs and feedlots. Not just that, but we can erect green scheme projects for fodder to supply feed for animals in our own feedlots,” he noted.

He said during the Pretoria meeting some deficiencies were identified in the currently proposed SOPs, which will now be pointed out to the provincial veterinarians in South Africa after the next stakeholder meeting on June 25 in Pretoria where he (Shoopala) will represent Namibia again.

Shoopala said the feedback process would take at least a week and then a final meeting will take place to confirm the SOPs for animals for direct slaughter and animals for breeding purposes. But no relief is in sight for goat producers as their animals will still have to be inspected individually in line with the new animal health regulations.

“We don’t know yet when that final meeting will take place, but I am optimistic that the new SOPs will kick in during the first quarter of July,” Shoopala stressed.

The delicate situation of Namibian livestock producers was also raised by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry Dr Malan Lindeque during a bilateral meeting between Namibia and South Africa last week in Windhoek.

The crisis is the result of new animal health requirements demanded by South Africa since May 1, which have brought local producers to their knees. South African authorities have gone back three times on previous promises, but made it clear during this week’s meeting that the issue is of utmost importance and must be resolved in early July.

Namibia’s multi-billion dollar livestock industry on whose livelihood some 70 percent of its 2.2 million inhabitants depend rakes in more than N$2 billion annually from an average of 160 000 weaners exported to South Africa, as well as 100 000 sheep and about 240 000 goats.

Since May 1, hardly any weaners or sheep have left the country, while only about 2 400 live goats were exported to KwaZulu-Natal.

Source : New Era