NAU welcomes SA’s revised conditions for meat imports

WINDHOEK: The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) has welcomed the decision by South Africa to revise the conditions for importation of animals to that country.

The revised import requirements for Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana have been suspended with immediate effect as from 26 August 2014.

Import requirements dated 30 April 2014 have been upheld by South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana after he felt that there was insufficient inclusive consultation before the implementation of the import requirements.

NAU Executive Manager Sakkie Coetzee said on Wednesday that access to this lucrative market is now once again open for business.

“We could not really see the real reason why the SA authorities put Namibia in the same pot with Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Our meat qualities and health status is much higher than our neighbouring countries, including that of SA as well. There is no fear that our health status will negatively influence and affect the SA market,” he stated.

With the stringent requirements set, no weaners had been exported from Namibia to SA since May 2014.

Namibian farmers usually export about 160 000 weaners to SA annually.

Coetzee suggested that the industry should explore alternative markets, saying it was a “wake-up call” for farmers during that period the borders were closed.

He said Namibian farmers, the government and the industry have to work together to find a solution which is viable and sustainable, and which will decrease the industry’s over-reliance on any single market.

Meanwhile, the revised conditions require that the livestock must originate from the foot-and-mouth disease-free zone of Namibia.

A media statement issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) on Monday said livestock may not be from a farm within five kilometres of any farm under quarantine for Rift Valley fever.

Also, the livestock may not transit through a Rift Valley fever-infected zone during transportation.

Furthermore, the farm which the livestock originate from may not be under any veterinary restrictions.

All animals to be exported must be identified by means of a permanent mark – a tattoo in the case of sheep and goats, and a brand in the case of cattle.

Owner-specific ear tags are to be used in the case of sheep and goats, while cattle are required to be identified by means of Namibia Animal Identification and Traceability Systems (NamLits) ear tags and owner-specific brands.

Exporters are required to obtain a permit from the Registrar of Livestock Improvement of South Africa, except if the animals are intended for direct slaughter.

Animals already certified for export under previous conditions may proceed to South Africa.