More than 6 000 tonnes of fresh and processed beef is consumed each year through the formal market in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs).
A study commissioned by the Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia in December 2013, has concluded that with the population estimate of 1 2 million into account, this translates into a consumption of about 7.5 kg of meat and meat products per capita per year.
The estimated per capita meat consumption for Namibia for 2009 was estimated at 28.3 kg , so formal trade consumption in the study area, done in conjunction with Agra, accounts for about only one quarter of total consumption, emphasising the importance of the informal trade in the value chain. The formal meat trade, which includes restaurants, is likely to reflect a higher per capita consumption, given serving sizes. Furthermore, tourists would account for a portion of this consumption. Forty-three per cent (43%) of formal consumer outlets indicated that they bought all their meat from within the NCAs, whilst 42.2% of formal consumers indicated that they sourced all their beef from south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF).
Although there are more cattle north of the VCF than to the south, there continues to be a demand for slaughter cattle and breeding stock from the south. During October 2012 to September 2013, 17 576 live cattle were sourced into the NCAs from south of the VCF. In addition, nine major suppliers of beef and beef products supplied more than a million kg of beef and beef products originating south of the VCF to clients in the NCAs during 2013. This equals 5 196 live cattle. These beef and beef products went to specific clients in the different regions of the NCAs including formal business outlets and government tenders to schools, army bases and hospitals. Currently there is no incentive in place to promote the use of locally produced beef in the NCAs.
A consumer survey undertaken in the formal business outlets, such as supermarkets, restaurants, lodges, hotels and other outlets identified that the quality of locally produced fresh and processed beef was not considered good enough by most of the respondents. Quality aspects included beef from old animals that is less juicy and tougher than that of younger animals. Thirty per cent of respondents indicated that the reason locally produced fresh and processed beef doesn’t meet their needs is poor or unreliable supply. They indicated that supply is not constant and that they regularly have to get fresh and processed beef from suppliers south of the VCF. A considerable proportion of respondents (25.8%) were of the opinion that the current poor hygiene at abattoirs and retail points prevented them from using locally produced fresh and processed beef. Nine point seven (9.7%) of the respondents also felt that they could get good quality fresh and processed beef from suppliers south of the VCF at lower prices than from local NCA suppliers.
The Angolan market is generally considered important by farmers, especially as a market for breeding stock. There is a high demand for good quality breeding stock and buyers pay in US dollars. Considerable numbers of breeding stock left the country in previous years, which prompted the government to put a moratorium on the export of breeding stock to Angola. Due to the drought in 2012/2013, the government temporarily lifted the moratorium in April 2013 and 8 784 cattle were exported between December 2012 and October 2013 via three border control points from the NCAs to Angola.
Livestock Market Efficiency Fund. A study on Informal Trade of Beef/Cattle in the NCAs was commissioned by MCA-N in collaboration with Agra and completed at the end of 2013. The main conclusions and recommendations from this study indicate that there is scope to increase the formal off-take from the current low levels of below 1% to at least 3% within the next five years.
However, to ensure food safety, greater emphasis will be needed on handling and hygiene standards at abattoirs, informal abattoirs and other places where cattle are slaughtered. Local producers need to be supported to provide animals of a higher quality to meet the market standards. This includes good rangeland management practices, nutrition and supplementation, as well as general health issues that can influence calving rates and thus productivity.
Informal vendors require training and mentoring on good business practices to remain profitable and viable, and avoid getting trapped in debt cycles.
Informal trading of cattle and beef takes place at open markets throughout the study area and represents nearly 11% of total consumption. During 2013 estimated 12 235 cattle were traded at open markets, of which 2 798 (22.9%) originated from south of the VCF, mainly to open markets in Oshakati and Ondangwa. In most cases informal vendors operated at average profit margins of 30% with variation of between 10% and more than 100%. The average margins for informal trade compared well with those of formal outlets.