Livestock Producers Positive – New Frontiers to Be Explored

Regional representatives have expressed their positive sentiments with regard to the livestock production situation in their various regions.

Producers aired their views during a Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) meeting, which was held last week in Windhoek, confirming a steady flow of livestock across the borders.

It transpired that good and sufficient grazing in the bigger commercial areas of Namibia and in most communal areas enabled producers to keep their livestock during the uncertainty in the market created by the unexpected strict import requirements by South Africa. These new regulations kicked into gear on 1 May, but despite the uncertainty, the market is busy adapting to the requirements which support the weaner price.

Namibian producers exported 441 cattle, 13 171 goats and 731 sheep to South Africa in July and indications are that these exports are on the increase.

The sudden drop in national auction prices, as was feared originally, did not materialise and only certain areas in the south, which, due to the distance, felt a bigger impact. Cattle and small stock are exported to South Africa and are building momentum as farmers, exporters and agents ascertained for themselves the definition of a herd as well as the vaccinations and tests required before cattle may be exported to South Africa.

Various actions were conducted to assist the industry in this process:

– Restructuring of S to increase capacity with regard to vaccinations and testing

– Accreditation of private vets are being investigated

– The Meat Board plans eight new positions on a contract basis to relieve the temporary shortage of capacity with regard to vaccinations and testing and

– The drafting of a standardized document which clearly reflects the export requirements.

After some six months of intense deliberations about the devastating effects of South Africa’s new export requirements for livestock from Namibia, local producers are enjoying some relief since the first quarter of July.

General Manager of the Meat Board Paul Strydom says a team of experts was recently established to conduct an in-depth study of the financial implications of Namibia revamping all its existing abattoirs and slaughter locally.

The Meat Board also suggested that exports to northern neighbours (Angola, DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe) should be researched while a market in the Middle East for goats should be explored. Local slaughtering capacity must be increased and underutilised farms made available.

In the medium term, it should be investigated how more animals could be rounded up for feedlots, amongst others. Structural changes to herds may also have to take place in future.

Dr John Shoopala, acting director of the Directorate of Veterinary Services says the current conditions for import of cattle and sheep into South Africa stipulate that the animals should originate from herds where no cases of tuberculosis and brucellosis have been reported in the last 24 months and the entire herd tested negative for the last 12 months.

Shoopala says the outcome of the deliberations should serve as a wake-up call.

“In the absence of feedlots in Namibia, weaner and goat exporters rely 100 percent on South Africa but the flip side is that this situation adds value to Namibian weaners, it creates employment and investment opportunities.

“The outcome after deliberations with South Africa to relax their stringent export requirements has pointed out these shortcomings and 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 notes.

Namibia’s multi-billion dollar livestock industry on whose livelihood some 70 percent of the 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.

Communal farmers supply about 60 percent of the total exports.

Source : New Era