SA Opens Border for Nam Livestock

AN announcement on 26 August by the South African Feedlot Association (Safa) that livestock import regulations for Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana have been suspended with immediate effect, was welcomed by Namibian farmers.

Executive director of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), Sakkie Coetzee said it was “good news” although the industry is waiting for an official announcement from the Namibian Directorate of Veterinary Services.

The implementation of the livestock import regulations on 1 May by the South African Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries came as a major setback for Namibian producers, and according to reported figures from the Namibian Meat Board, the industry was losing about N$2,3 million daily because of the restrictions.

Requirements involved tedious veterinary tests and supervision of animals intended to be exported to ensure they are not a health risk to South African animals. This was an expensive and time-consuming exercise that demotivated farmers to export their livestock, resulting in an ‘over-production’ of about 160 000 animals that could have been exported to this market at a 20% higher price than what they allegedly fetch locally, farmers informed The Namibian.

“We questioned whether it was really necessary to comply with all the requirements set by this restriction considering Namibian livestock health standards that even qualify for meat exports to the European Union,” said Coetzee.

According to the announcement by Safa, the [SA] director general said that Safa’s objections to the revised import requirements have been upheld by SA’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“It is the view of the [SA] minister that there was insufficient inclusive consultation. The Director of Animal Health will shortly call for comments on the revised import requirements via the [SA] Government Gazette,” the announcement stated, signed by Safa’s executive director Dave Ford.

It is expected that everything will “return to normal” in about three months.

“We are sitting with animals that were intended for this market, so now they first have to go to auction,” a very happy farmer from Khomas told this newspaper.

Coetzee agreed that it will take a while to return to normal because of infrastructure rearrangements due to other arrangements that had to be made to transport and keep animals, as well as re-adaptation of contracts with SA clients.

“Otherwise, local farmers will not have to go through all these health checks and monitors, and the only permits now have to do with transport and export, which makes it much easier,” he said.

Source : The Namibian