Following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) has lifted the ban on movement of animals in the Zambezi Region, but placed a restriction on the transfer of meat products to south of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF).
The acting northern communal areas (NCAs) plant manager for Meatco in Oshakati, Obed Kaatura, says there is now a fresh concern since the Katima plant in Zambezi has limited storage capacity and after about two months of production the freezers would be full, compelling Meatco to stop production.
Meatco’s abattoir in Oshakati has also been shut since the beginning of the year because of FMD outbreaks in the NCAs.
Thokozile Mdlalose, communication officer of Meatco says Meatco is now considering keeping the plant closed until such a time that movement of meat into the VCF area is allowed again.
The local market where meat is allowed to move freely only consumes about 30 per cent of production of which most are low-value products (offal and beef stew/chops, soup meat/bones). Thus the remaining 70 per cent of production (mainly prime cuts and manufacturing beef) needs to be stored either in Windhoek or Walvis Bay.
“We have raised this concern with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry as well as the DVS, and we are waiting for feedback on this matter,” Obed added.
Some community leaders have appealed to the ministry on the restriction placed on moving meat products, and meetings are planned with senior officials from the ministry, DVS, Meatco and the Meat Board during the course of next week.
The Minister of Agricultutre, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, will deliberate on how to resolve the matter.
The DVS has declared that the Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions are still affected by the FMD outbreak.
As a result the agriculture ministry has urged farmers and the public not to move cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and wild animals or other potentially infectious material and products from, into and within the infected and containment areas to other parts of Namibia.