Namibia’ precarious situation with regards to livestock exports to South Africa will be discussed on the highest political platforms between the two countries after it emerged that South Africa is still contemplating stringent laws that will virtually close the borders for the Namibian multi-billion weaner export market.
President of the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU), Derek Wright, expressed his concerns about the situation when he addressed the 28th annual congress of the Agricultural Employers’ Association (AEA) In Windhoek, saying the Namibian government has fully committed itself to bilateral discussions on the highest level to find a lasting solution for the situation, which resulted in the Namibian livestock export industry grinding to a halt last year when South Africa introduced the new animal health requirements.
Wright hoped that an amicable solution will soon be reached when he addressed the congress on the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Northern Communal Areas. He complimented farmers from south and north of the Veterinary Corridor Fence, saying the outbreaks could have been catastrophic, were it not for the immediate and swift action of farmers and their workers umping in with patrols near the fence to contain animals and prevent movement of animals.
“Namibian farmers again proved that they are indeed the glue that keeps the local economy together. If not for their actions, we could have witnessed a complete clampdown of animals south of the corridor fence with catastrophic results for the whole meat industry,” he observes. Wright says the disaster would have been worst for those small towns and settlements in remote areas where farmers’ buying power keeps the inhabitants alive.
He is also concerned regarding the upcoming rain season, saying initial predictions for rain do not bode well for Namibian farmers. The NAU has listened to some weather experts, and according to them, Namibia could face another dry spell in the 2015/16 rain season. “Indications are that the El Nino effect is strengthening and that could surely mean another bad rain season”, he laments.
Wright says grazing in most areas in Namibia is already seriously depleted and farmers are battling to feed their animals as source of only income. “Namibian farmers must be the best in the world if you take into consideration all the elements they have to battle on a daily basis, living in the driest country south of the Sahara,” he notes.
In conclusion, he emphasises the importance of the governments of Namibia and South Africa keeping the doors pen for discussions on the livestock export situation, bearing in mind the FMD outbreaks and animal health in general. He stresses that the Feedlot Association of South Africa could eventually play a vital role in the final outcome as the association has already indicated that it wants the borders opened and the requirements relaxed to ensure weaner imports from Namibia.