In a first development of its kind locally, a Namibian registered company is about to set up an abattoir in Okahandja to slaughter and process donkey meat and donkey hides for export to China.
The residents of Okahandja are being asked to give their input on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) towards the establishment of such a donkey meat abattoir by a company, called AgriNature Investment and Trade cc.
The timing could not have been better for the local entrepreneurs, two months after North African countries banned the exports of donkey, donkey meat and skin to Asia, which is a key market for these products.
North African countries issued the bans to prevent the decimation of the donkey population in African countries and to curtail the irrational increases in the prices of donkeys on the market, which have now become unaffordable for ordinary African households that have long relied on these equine animals for draught work.
North African countries blocked their borders in the last six weeks to stop what international media dubbed as China buying up the global donkey supply to meet her run-away internal demand for a traditional remedy tonic, ‘ejiao’, believed to improve blood circulation and the immune system, cure dizziness, insomnia, irregular menstruation and is also used as a ‘wake-me-up’ booster.
According to the available – yet scant – details, AgriNature Investment and Trade is co-owned by Chinese and Namibian nationals.
Wilson Yang represents AgriNature. Yang, who at first declined to comment, told New Era he is not a shareholder, or owner of the business, hence cannot discuss the concept in detail.
He promised to come back once he obtains permission from the proprietors, who are based in Karibib.
“The activities that will take place at the abattoir include the slaughtering, as well as processing of donkey meat,” said the documents calling for public input and objections, as part of the EIA.
The envisaged abattoir would be based in a warehouse, but the proposed abattoir, to be situated in Okahandja’s Northern Industrial area on Erf 780 in Industry West Street, cannot proceed without the relevant environmental clearance certificate.
Botswana already counts donkey meat exports among its most lucrative trade items with China. The Botswana Press Agency previously reported that donkey meat exports are doing so well that Motswana business people exporting donkey meat are planning to build a canned donkey meat-processing facility, while in South Africa’s North West provincial officials went to China specifically to discuss the possibility of supplying the China with donkey products.
In Kenya two donkey abattoirs opened this year to export to China, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported in May. However, Burkina Faso and Niger – two of Africa’s largest exporter of donkeys, donkey meat and skin to China – have instituted bans on the export of donkeys, donkey meat and hides to Asia and blame the Asian country’s growing wealth for their dwindling donkey populations.
In Niger the price of a live donkey jumped from N$459 to between N$1 380 and N$2 000. In Burkina Faso, which implemented the ban in August, the price of a donkey hide has increased more than eleven-fold from N$55 to N$690.
In Namibia a live donkey is currently priced at between N$500 and N$900, depending on which side of the Veterinary Cordon Fence the donkey is bought from.
According to the Livestock Catalogue released by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2014 the country, has about 200 000 donkeys, of which 90 percent are found in the Northern Communal Areas. These animals play a vital role in performing everyday tasks in rural communities.
The donkey population in China is in decline, with CNN saying – according to China’s own statistics – their donkey population fell from 11 million to six million over the last 20 years.
Niger’s government, in issuing the ban, said their exports of donkeys jumped up 196.3 percent, as 80 000 live donkeys were exported this year alone, compared to a total of 27 000 exported in 2015, BBC Africa reported last month.
Niger also banned the slaughter of donkeys within its borders, as the trade in donkeys has become so lucrative that livestock sellers are abandoning other animals for the donkey trade.
Nevertheless, AgriNature Investment and Trade says it is serious in about establishing what could be the first Namibian donkey meat-exporting abattoir, but can only proceed if they obtain the required regulatory approval from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
For the EIA AgriNature has secured the services of Windhoek-based firm, CNM Environmental Consulting Services cc.
The EIA aims to engage the public regarding the handling of industrial waste, as well as the management, treatment, transport and disposal of such waste, among other social and environmental concerns.
“The scope of the EIA is to determine the potential environmental impacts emanating from the development of the abattoir and its proposed operations. Relevant environmental data have been compiled by making use of secondary data and from a site visit,” CNM Environmental Consulting Services said in documents availed to the public.
CNM says all potential environmental impacts and associated social impacts will be identified and addressed in the EIA report.