Vice-president of the Namibian National Farmers Union (NNFU) Abdal Mutjavikua on Tuesday asked for immediate government intervention to halt the implementation of the strict new South African livestock import regulations that could be catastrophic for the local industry, if the new rules come into effect on July 1.
Describing the announcement of the new rules as “a tough time like never before”, Mutjavikua said the negative consequences of these requirements to export livestock to SA would lead to a drastic reduction in export volumes and massive losses of export revenue earnings for the sector and entire country.
“In the short run, Namibia needs to re-engage with its SA counterparts to negotiate a revision of separate standard operational procedures (SOPs) between animals exported for breeding and those destined for feedlots and slaughtering,” he observed.
He says in the long run Namibia needs a complete turnaround strategy for the entire industry that would transform the sector from an industry-based sector towards the development of an agro-ecological system, where livestock production systems, aquaculture, forestry, horticulture and crop production systems form the pillars of the industry.
“The transformation should also fast-track the graduation of subsistence and communal farmers into agripreneurs, through modernization and mechanisation of the sector, by converting communal space into productive and attractive business zones. The quality of our products has to improve and become more competitive on the markets. Huge opportunities wait for Namibia on the UK markets,” he remarked.
He says Agribank and lending institutions should be at the heart of the turnaround strategy in order for the bank to provide more funding and to develop innovative and accessible products that can be accessed by low-income producers.
He also stressed the urgency for Namibia to firstly diversify markets for livestock and livestock products.
“With SA as our major partner now closing opportunities for us as a country, Namibia has no option. Evidence shows that Namibia’s producers can’t keep up with the demand for beef to the UK and Norway markets. There are opportunities for diversification into those markets and the Brexit angst should not affect our exports negatively.”
NNFU also feels that a policy framework should be put in place by government to provide for detailed and continuous research into identification and development of new markets within the African continent.
“A review of the Meat Industry Act and associated pieces of legislation is needed to ensure adequate provision is made to facilitate this,” Mutjavikua stated.
He stressed that while the export of livestock on the hoof into SA has been very lucrative, it is not the best option going into the future.
“Government needs to increase efforts aimed at developing and upgrading feedlots, increasing the capacity of local abattoirs and for the establishment of meat processing facilities to export processed meat. This will create more jobs and eventually generate more revenue for the country, whilst offering an outlet for local livestock,” he said.
He said there is a need for government to put in place measures to encourage investment in the sector in order to modernize the sector and increase the quality and competitiveness of products.
Government should facilitate efforts aimed at strengthening public/private partnerships to establish and renovate infrastructure like abattoirs, auction pens, feedlots and meat processing facilities.
He urged government to increase the pace of land reform to allow more communal farmers to access arable farming land.
“We will be stuck at the bottom of the value chain unless more land is made available to communal farmers to contribute to the best part of the production of some 180 000 weaners every year,” he stated.