A cry of distress – from the Zambezi River in the north to the Orange River in the south – rang out from Namibian livestock producers this weekend as the full implications of the new export rules by South Africa dawned on them.
The new regulations demand that a whole cattle herd has to be tested for tuberculosis and lung sickness, which means a producer will have to test some 300 cattle before being able to export 20.
The regulations make the export of sheep and goats equally impossible as it implies 2 500 goats’ blood must be drawn every week as Namibia exports that amount of goats weekly to SA.
Namibia exported 48 248 cattle and 52 450 sheep between January and March this year to SA.
Livestock producers in all 14 regions have rejected the new SA import regulations, clinging to the hope that Namibian authorities will engage in further deliberations with their SA counterparts after SA agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana made the new import rules a law as from July 1 for Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Last week farmers’ representatives met President Hage Geingob at State House and appealed to him to engage SA authorities on the matter.
The implementation – on the eve of the annual weaner auction season – has rocked Namibia’s N$2 billion industry and was greeted with serious concern by role players, stakeholders and producers. It comes at a time of the annual weaner auction season when more than 70 percent of communal farmers rely solely on the income of weaner sales for a livelihood.
South Africa still has to spell out the Standard Handling Procedure, as communicated with Namibia, and revise the contents of a veterinary import certificate to accompany the Standard Handling Procedure. High-powered deliberations to that effect are expected soon after a recent visit by a delegation from the Office of the Prime Minister to their counterparts in SA.
Director of the Directorate of Veterinary Services, Dr Milton Maseke, told New Era that they have accepted the revised veterinary import permit of 2014 with relaxed conditions for now, but says the current permit is not acceptable.
“Namibian authorities are preparing for new engagements with SA authorities about the veterinary import permit,” he explained.
The chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organisation, Mecki Schneider, expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the regulations were announced by SA, saying both countries agreed in a recent meeting between industrial delegations from SA and Namibia on the Standard Handling Procedure.
“Namibian producers are on their knees after consecutive droughts, input costs’ rise on average by seven percent per annum – and now these stringent new import regulations will make it almost impossible for local producers to survive as the weaner export industry to SA is the livelihood of some 70 percent of communal farmers,” Schneider lamented.
New Era can today – at the request of producers countrywide – publish the complete requirements for small stock and cattle.
Small stock must be moved into an isolation camp for the period of preparation for export.
Individual identification of small stock is required by means of an ear tag with a unique number for each animal. As per agreement between the Directorate of Veterinary Services and the Meat Board of Namibia, these ear tags will be purchased and disseminated by the Meat Board. These specific ear tags will initially only be applicable to animals that will be exported. The small stock will thus have to receive these specific identification ear tags when they are moved into the isolation camp. A list of the ear tag numbers should accompany the animals to their end destination.
Small stock should come from a farm that is certified free from Brucella melitensis, or each animal in the group that will be exported must be tested within 30 days before export.
Sheep rams for breeding purposes must be tested for Brucella ovis within 30 days before export. Sheep should be treated against sheep scab during the period of preparation for export. Small stock should be treated against internal and external parasites 72 hours before export. Loading of small stock for export may only be done under veterinary supervision.
Cattle herds should be declared clinically free from Infectious Bovine rhino-tracheitis /Infectious pustular vulvo-vaginitis (IBR/IPV) and must be vaccinated against IBR more than 30 days but not more than six months before export with an inactive/dead vaccine.
The entire cattle herd should test negative for Bovine brucella and TB for the 12 months prior to export. Cattle should be kept in an isolation camp before export. A list of ear tags should accompany the cattle to the final destination. Each head of cattle exported should test negative for Brucella abortus and TB within 30 days before export. Only heifers younger than 18 months, that were vaccinated against Brucella between the age of four months and eight months do not need to be tested.
Bulls for breeding purposes should be tested for Trichomonas and Vibriosis. Anthrax vaccines should be up to date (applied within 12 months prior to export). Cattle should be treated against internal and external parasites 72 hours before export. Loading of cattle may only be done under veterinary supervision.
Proof of all vaccinations and treatments is needed by the veterinary official to certify the export permit.