Sheep Farmers Want New Export Rules

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Meat Board of Namibia will next Tuesday convene a Small Stock Marketing Technical Committee and a special board meeting to come up with relief measures that will enable sheep farmers to export their small stock. This comes in the wake of drought that has hit especially the south of the country where farmers have to remove some sheep from their farms as a matter of urgency. Representatives of the farmers associations and the abattoir association met the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Dr Nickey Iyambo, recently to request further temporary relaxation of the current regulations for them to take out tens of thousands of sheep outside the country. He said this was necessitated by the lack of customary rains that were expected to fall over the Easter weekend. Iyambo on Tuesday said the ministry had mandated the Meat Board to administer the export of small stock to other markets, provided the local abattoirs continue to be provided with full throughput. Yesterday, Meat Board Manager: Information Systems, Willie Schutz, said the technical committee would meet on Tuesday morning to recommend new measures, which the farmers would use to export their sheep while the special board meting would meet in the afternoon to approve the re- commendations. It is expected that the current local slaughter to export ratio of 3:1 will temporarily stop on Tuesday after the new measures come into force. When the ratio was revised from 6:1, over 89 600 sheep were slaughtered at export abattoirs while approximately 26 400 sheep were exported live. But with the worsening drought situation, 60 000 sheep need to be exported during May and June. Although the local abattoirs have the capacity to slaughter, they can only slaughter about 216 000 in May and June. According to Schutz, the relief measures will change as the situation changes. “It will be monitored closely by the Meat Board and changed accordingly,” he added. Farmers have to wait for six weeks at the abattoirs to have their sheep slaughtered. The Chief Agricultural Extension Officer in Keetmanshoop, Chris van der Merwe, said on Wednesday sheep needed to be rounded (fattened) first before selling them locally, but with the shortage of grazing it would be a very costly exercise.