The total number of the cattle marketed between January and March this year stood at 75 577 livestock units comprising 19 202 cattle slaughtered at export abattoirs; 8 127 slaughtered at local abattoirs and 48 248 live exports, which makes up a 64% of the total cattle marketed. No cattle were slaughtered at the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) abattoirs due to the closure of the two abattoirs in Oshakati and Katima Mulilo. There was a decrease in the total number of cattle marketed from 101 276 in 2015 during the same reporting period to 75 577, indicating a 24.5 % decrease. The high level of live exports can be attributed to emergency marketing of cattle by producers due to the drought conditions prominent in the country currently.
Despite the positive outlook for rain at the beginning of the year the rainfall received has been below average. By implication this means there is limited feed available for livestock, resulting in poor quality livestock produced in some parts of the country.
Both the Namibian and the Namibian-Super prices for the A2 sheep traded below both the RMAA and the Northern Cape prices. A big difference between both Namibian prices and that of the RMAA was experienced in Week One, as well as Week Nine with a price difference of N$11.32 and N$ 9.32 respectively.
Namibian abattoirs are unable to pay equivalent prices compared to the prices offered by SA abattoirs. The 60% levy payable on raw sheepskins is one of the major contributing factors affecting the competitiveness of the Namibian abattoirs.
Out of the total live exports to South Africa, 6 590 sheep were exported under the “too lean too small” scheme. Sheep exported under the normal quota provision made up 52 450 sheep units accounting for 88% of the live exports, whilst the stud exports and the fat-tail sheep were equivalent to 45 and 700 sheep units respectively.
There was, however, a steady increase in the slaughtering capacity utilisation from January to March across all three abattoirs, thus also causing an increase in the ratio of slaughtering, compared to that of live export.
However, it is clear that abattoirs were still operating below the 80% capacity. Low production numbers of sheep, as well as the uncompetitive pricing of the abattoirs, can be some of the factors for the low throughput at these abattoirs.
Sheep slaughtering made up 56% of the total marketing, whilst live exports made up 44% of the total marketing.
The unavailability of quality lambs due to the lack of the availability and quality of forage contributed to the low prices offered to the producers. C2 sheep price fluctuated and the Namibian price traded lower than that of the RMAA and Northern Cape prices for the past 15 weeks, with the highest price difference being reported in Week 13 – N$ 5.00 lower than the Northern Cape and N$8.13 lower than that of the RMAA.
There was a steady increase in numbers of sheep slaughtered between January and March, moving from 8 660 in January to 45 566 sheep units in March. Therefore, it was also evident that specifically in March the sheep slaughtered were more than the live exports by 52%. Large parts of the South, specifically the southwestern parts of the country, have very poor grazing conditions due to very little rainfall received in those areas. The current climatic conditions can therefore explain the large numbers of live exports, compared to cattle slaughtered at the abattoirs.
The NCAs continue to have limited markets for their beef due to the closure of the two export abattoirs that previously operated in Oshakati and Katima Mulilo, as well as the 2015 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak.
Therefore, new operators urgently need to be assigned to these abattoirs to ensure that beef from the NCAs has a market. Additionally, strategies that will ensure a more long-term solution for cattle marketing in the NCAs should be developed and implemented.
There was a general decrease in the marketing of sheep during the reporting period, compared to the same period last year. According to the Rangeland Status Report, most areas in Namibia received below average rainfall.
This means farmers faced fodder shortage for their animals, resulting in low production figures and a reduction in the quality of slaughter animals. Emergency marketing will be undertaken in the coming months.