Drought-stricken Namibian livestock producers had to wait 11 months for it to happen, but a bright light appeared in their dark tunnel last week when 18 South African feedlots and abattoirs were accredited with the South African authorities to receive livestock from Namibia under less stringent import regulations.
Exports of weaner calves to South Africa could finally resume in September after the registration of only eight feedlots and abattoirs with that country’s directorate of animal health.
This resulted in Namibian weaner exports picking up immediately, although it was way too late to reach the average of some 180 000 weaners that were exported annually to SA before the strict new rules were implemented overnight in 2013.
Adding another ten abattoirs and feedlots to the already accredited list, is a tremendous relief to Namibian cattle farmers, who have been hard-hit by drought, stringent new animal health regulations in South Africa and the closure of Meatco’s Okapuka feedlot outside Windhoek on September 2.
The good news from SA comes within 24 hours after the Okapuka feedlot was officially reopened last week when a zeranol (growth stimulant) scare was amicable resolved between the Directorate of Veterinary Services and Meatco.
The South African feedlots that will be able to bypass the strict health regulations are Morgan Beef, Maye West, Mushlendow and Braams, Cartol, Beefmaster, Beefcor, Kirkintilloch, Uitkoms, Doorbult, Muller and Vermaas and Kameeldrift feedlots. The accredited abattoirs are Cavalier, KLK, Tomis, Sparta, Karan Beef. GWK Feedlot and Abattoir and Cartol Abattoir.
The relief measures come in the wake of the Cost Production Index of the past ten years showing that Namibian cattle farmers have endured an eight percent profit loss over the past decade, which makes them 80 percent worse off than ten years ago.
Stock farming is under tremendous financial pressure, as the rate at which costs increase is much higher than growth in income.
Weaner and slaughter carcass prices have also not remained in step with input costs during 2016 and weaner prices plummeted when export regulations closed the borders to SA for all practical purposes.
Agri-inflation is also way higher than the general consumer inflation rate.
The financial pressure, coupled with the current drought, export uncertainties and the temporary closure of Okapuka feedlot all placed a tremendous burden on stock farmers.
The news of 18 abattoirs/feedlots now available for Namibian weaners was greeted with great optimism by role players and stakeholders in the N$5 billion per annum industry.
Farmers and role players New Era spoke to were all upbeat about the latest development and positive that this would ensure better weaner and slaughter prices for cash-strapped Namibian producers at the start of the new rainy season.