Droughts are always a given and producers will have to make provision for this. Following 2013 most parts of Namibia have been experiencing drought. This has been accompanied by large numbers of cattle at auctions and abattoirs as part of emergency marketing.
In his annual report as Chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO), Mecki Schneider, expressed great concern over the outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) and the appearance of buffaloes, which remain a big threat to the animal health status of Namibia and the fact that no progress has been made with regard to the Small Stock Marketing Scheme, as well as the implementation of the new import regulations for livestock by the South African Veterinary Department.
Schneider says this year brought great challenges, especially with regard to the animal health status of Namibia. As far as the marketing of small and large stock is concerned, he notes that the marketing of cattle has drastically increased due to various factors (drought, possible import restrictions by South Africa and the threat of the FMD outbreak). “With regard to the marketing of cattle, there was an oversupply of cattle at auctions while abattoirs slaughtered at full capacity. More than 100% cattle were marketed. Exports to South Africa have drastically increased, while exports to Angola have drastically decreased due to the recession in the crude oil price and consequently no US$ income. Unfortunately marketing to the NCAs where large numbers of cattle were sold, decreased drastically with the movement restrictions that came into force with the outbreak of FMD. The Witvlei Meat abattoir was closed in October 2014,” Schneider notes.
He says auction and slaughtering prices in general were lower in comparison with those of the previous year. There was a minimal decrease in the tendency of the total small stock marketing. If the different marketing channels are compared, the slaughtering of sheep at abattoirs decreased with about 20%, while exports increased with close to 24% (with an export quota built on the 1:1 marketing scheme and animals which were not suitable to be slaughtered under the drought scheme). Prices at the small stock abattoirs were competitive up to February, but when the marketing scheme started with an oversupply (due to the drought) of lambs, the price differences between Namibia and the Northern Cape abattoirs increased drastically. The difference was as much as N$10 per kg. The LPO continued its efforts to get a solution for the dilemma in the small stock sector, Schneider observes.
“The only alternative for this industry would be to get approval for bone-in exports to the European Union (EU), which might realise better prices for small stock producers. Unfortunately no progress has been made due to the bureaucracy of both the Namibian government and the EU. This again resulted in the LPO’s decision to negotiate the Small Stock Marketing Scheme with the government, as after 14 years no significant results have been seen regarding the governments’ intention of value addition and employment creation. Up to date the government has kept to the 1:1 scheme. The negative tendency of the marketing of goats continues and each year even smaller numbers of goats are marketed.
The threat of the implementation of strict import requirements by South Africa as reported in the Annual Report last year is still ongoing. After the South African Minister of Agriculture last year provisionally lifted the implementation of the requirements until proper consultation has been done, cattle from Namibia could be imported to South Africa relatively freely. In the meantime the Meat Board also implemented a system which gives guarantees to the South African industry that livestock imported from Namibia reach their destinations such as feed pens or abattoirs. A new consultation process announced by the Department of Veterinary Services in South
Africa in April 2015 for a one-month-long consultation period was published in the Government Gazette. The Namibian meat industry submitted a joint proposal which ensures no risks are attached to livestock exports to South Africa. The government also sent requests to the South African government in this regard but no feedback has yet been received, although unofficially it was stated that these strict import requirements are not published under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary committee of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s website. In other words, South Africa keeps to her viewpoint that these export requirements must be implemented, which impedes our livestock exports substantially. The implementation of these strict measures in reality has little to do with Namibia’s animal health, but is rather a trade restriction with the aim to get a better producers’ price by stimulating increased demand.
The meat industry is currently looking at a strategy to solve this problem. Furthermore, it also emphasises that Namibia’s slaughtering industry must be supported, Schneider concludes.