The NAU says forced marketing caused a notable decrease in livestock numbers in both Namibia and South Africa. The latest statistics from South Africa show a strong decrease in livestock figures in South Africa for the period February 2013 to August 2015 as not enough grazing caused farmers to get rid of large number of herds. This tendency still continues and the numbers most probably will only stabilise once the first good rain falls after the winter months. It is nearly impossible to keep large amount of animals during the drought period due to the enormous increase in feeding costs.
“In time livestock numbers in both Namibia and South Africa will again be raised, at a price however, as the enormous shortage of herd animals and meat which is forecast once the drought comes to an end, will lead to enormous increases in livestock prices. It thus is very difficult for farmers to return to their original levels of production and if so, it will be brought about only over a long period. The increase in numbers after the drought usually also lead to an increase in farm debts and it is already known that both Nambia and South Africa experience record levels in terms of total agricultural debt.
“Organisations such as Meatco already raised concerns about the period after the drought when only few cattle will be available to fill the already under-utilised slaughtering capacity. The livestock sector is over a number of years already under pressure to handle prdocution levels. The amount of slaughtering cattle which is marketed from the field has decreased which caused that world standard slaughtering facilities are used under their capaicty.The amount of sheep which are marketed annually also decreased over the past years,” the NAU notes.
Besides the drought, various other factors also contributed towards this long term tendency, but especially bush encroachment and predators have a big impact. Effective rangeland management, animal health and general good farming practices are factors which will have to get more attention on farm level.
“Sharpening initiatives to make a notable difference to critical problems such as bush encroachment, research and information distribution to farmers as well as development of more effective value chains where the farmer has more control over his product in the value to a certain measure are also an important aspect. Besides all these challenges the industry is facing, there is a lot which can be done to ensure sustainability of the industry. The rangeland project which is currently on-going as well as the linkage with the simplified AgriStat is examples of important initiatives which must be driven continuously,” the NAU concludes.