An urgent meeting with stakeholders in the meat industry is slated for February 10 to find new ways to market livestock from the northern communal areas (NCAs). Producers in the NCAs find themselves in the wilderness after a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak last year halted all slaughtering at Meatco’s abattoirs in Katima Mulilo and Oshakati.
The consistent dry spells since 2013 have compounded the precarious situation of producers, and for now the abattoirs remain closed after Meatco last week announced it is embarking on a new mobile slaughtering system and did not renew its contract with government to operate the facilities.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa yesterday confirmed that parties interested to operate the abattoirs have already been invited to partake in the tendering process.
On December 02 2015, Mutorwa’s office was directed to commence with a tendering process for the two abattoirs.
Mutorwa says tenders are awaited and the abattoirs will reopen to lighten the pressure of having no slaughtering facilities for NCA farmers.
The manager of trade at the Meat Board, Goliath Tujendapi, and Meatco manager for corporate affairs, Rosa Hamukuaja-Thobias, confirmed the urgent meeting, saying Meatco’s operations will be guided by the outcome of the industry meeting, while the Meat Board will encourage a commodity-based approach. Tujendapi said the time has come to discuss the possibilities of marketing meat from the NCAs south of the veterinary cordon fence in accordance with international animal health regulations.
“Now that the NCAs have been declared FMD-free, we must all come to the party and find ways for those farmers to market their livestock which is after all their livelihood. An urgent intervention is needed to bring relief to them,” he notes.
Meatco says it is well aware of the crucial need of farmers in the NCAs to resume with the marketing of livestock after the double-edged sword of drought and FMD outbreak in 2015.
“This meeting will be attended by all stakeholders in the industry and aims to spell out the new rules of marketing livestock in the NCAs after the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak while addressing possible markets for beef originating from the NCAs,” Hamukuaja-Tobias stressed.
Namibia is experiencing the third consecutive year of drought and the current El Niño is predicted to be the worst ever and comparable to the El Niño of 1997-1998.
El Niño is the warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, which affects rainfall patterns and temperatures in many parts of the world but most intensely in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America that are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards.
Meanwhile, Namibia has won the battle against a three-month-old outbreak of FMD in some parts of the NCAs. Government spent about N$180 million on the exercise. The NCAs did not experience the disease for almost 30 years before the outbreak was recorded on May 11 2015 in the Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions.
On the way forward for Meatco, Hamukuaja-Thobias said the company will resume with buying cattle from communal farmers in the NCAs only when the new rules are in place.
The local meat industry is worth in excess of N$ 2.5 billion a year.