Namibia yesterday became the first African country to get the green light from China to export bone-in beef to Hong Kong after the two countries signed a protocol on veterinary health conditions and quarantine in Beijing, China, last year.
Under the protocol, beef means the frozen deboned and bone-in meat, excluding head, feet, offal and viscera, and other by-products. It is expected that Namibia will soon also be permitted to export mutton to the lucrative Hong Kong market.
Announcing the deal, chief veterinary officer in the Directorate of Veterinary Services Dr Milton Maseke said the cattle should be born and reared in the foot-and-mouth disease-free zone of Namibia and exports could start as soon as Meatco is ready for the process from its abattoirs in Windhoek and Okahandja.
“I want to stress that this new market is open to all Namibians who wish to export beef to China and not for certain companies or individuals only. The government did not negotiate this market for a specific group of people or companies,” he said.
The Chinese market, as opposed to the European Union, Switzerland and Norway markets, will allow for the export of bone-in beef, provided that the animals are slaughtered and the beef is processed and certified at an export-approved slaughterhouse or abattoir by the directorate of veterinary services.
The cattle for export purposes should come from a farm that has not introduced any cloven-hoofed animal from a region other than the FMD-free zone of Namibia, where vaccination has not been practised during the past 12 months. Animals shall be resident on the farm for at least 60 days prior to slaughter and should have been vaccinated against anthrax.
The animals should have never been fed any materials originating from ruminants, except milk, and must have never used veterinary medicine and feed additives prohibited by China or Namibia.
This opportunity will allow the country’s producers to send bigger volumes of beef at expected much lower processing costs into the Chinese market. The Witvlei abattoir, which has been closed since January this year, should be revived, role players told New Era yesterday.
Currently, Namibia exports 17 000 tons of meat products to South Africa per annum, about 10 000 tons to the European Union and about 1 850 tons to Norwegian markets.
After the signing of the protocol, agriculture minister John Mutorwa was also quoted as saying: “I want to stress that this new market is open to all Namibians who wish to export beef to China and not for certain companies or individuals only. The government did not negotiate this market for a specific group of people or companies.”
Maseke yesterday said the volumes for export would be based on the slaughtering capacity of Meatco abattoirs and Meatco’s ability to procure animals for the export market.
“The challenge is now up to Namibian abattoirs to conform to the strict Chinese standards for exports and for them to increase their production,” he said.