After recording a 10.12% decrease in the total marketing of sheep by the end of May, the Meat Board has now been appointed by Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa to chair a technical committee to structure a long term strategy for the marketing of sheep in Namibia.
Total marketing of sheep up to May this year was 396 295 head. That is 44 639 fewer than the 440 934 head marketed over the same period last year. The May 2016 total included 148 196 head of sheep exported to South Africa and 158 900 head of sheep slaughtered during the reporting period.
The new technical committee consists of two representatives each from the Namibia Agricultural Union, the Namibia National Farmers Union, the Abattoir Association, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation and SME Development.
The committee has already met three times to formulate a strategy that will be submitted to the minister within the next 14 days for consideration by Cabinet’s Committee on Trade and Economic Development. As soon as the strategy has been finalised, the outcomes will be communicated.
There has been a steady increase in sheep slaughtering from January to May, moving from 8 660 in January to 33 641 sheep in May 2016, because despite the rainfall received in some parts of the country, it was not sufficient to help farmers maintain the animals on the land due to limited availability of forage.
The month-on-month decrease in marketing over the two years can be attributed to the fact that the rain prospects for 2016 were much better than that of the previous year, as the expectation for more rain was positive at the beginning of the year.
Out of the total live exports to South Africa, a total of 7 190 sheep was exported under the “too lean, too small” scheme. Sheep exports that were exported under the normal quota made up 140 250 sheep, accounting for 94.6% of live exports, whilst the stud exports and the fat-tail sheep were equivalent to 56 and 700 sheep, respectively.
With a three-month capacity of 165 000 a total of 60 763 sheep was slaughtered at the Mariental abattoir, representing a 37% capacity utilisation of the abattoir during January to May 2016.
Keetmanshoop abattoir and the Aranos abattoir utilised only 38% and 21% of their five-month slaughter capacity, respectively. The low capacity utilisation percentages can be attributed to the shortage of slaughter-ready sheep.
There has, however, been a steady increase in the slaughtering capacity utilisation from January to May across all three abattoirs, thus also causing an increase in the ratio of slaughtering compared to that of live exports.
However, it is clear that abattoirs are still operating below 80% capacity. Low production numbers of sheep, as well as the uncompetitive pricing of the abattoirs can be one of the attributing factors for the low through-put at these abattoirs.
A2 Sheep Prices
It is evident that both the Namibian and Namibian-Super prices for the A2 sheep traded below both the RMAA and Northern Cape prices.
Producer price differences can be observed in the latest statistics, which indicate the difference between the Namibian and Namibian-Super price compared to that of the Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA) and Northern Cape prices.
A big difference between both Namibian prices and those of the RMAA was experienced in Week 1, as well as Week 9, with a price difference of N$11.32 and N$9.32, respectively. Weeks 19, 20 and 25 also saw a huge difference between the Namibian and RMAA prices specifically, with an average difference of N$8.
The government’s Small Stock Marketing Scheme was recently praised during a Namibian Agricultural Union meeting with President Hage Geingob, but the local sheep industry has shrunk drastically and sheep farmers have incurred severe financial losses following the introduction of legislation in 2004 stipulating that for every sheep exported live, six must be slaughtered locally.
Through the leadership of the Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO) and the Meat Board, the issue was brought to the ministry’s attention in July 2015. The ministry found the proposals made by the LPO and the Meat Board reasonable and the matter has since been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development for consideration.