WINDHOEK - Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Alpheus !Naruseb is expected to formally inform Cabinet about the severity of the drought ravaging many parts of the country after receiving the details of a joint drought action plan during a meeting with the presidents of the Namibian Agriculture Union (NAU) and the Namibian Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) last week.
The minister is currently discussing the proposals with various role players after he and his deputy minister and the entire senior management attended the meeting where they acknowledged the intensity of the drought and indicated that a Cabinet submission will be made soon.
All parties present at the meeting agreed that the export of livestock must not be restricted in order to enable producers to market their animals as soon as possible. Price stability in the local market for slaughtering animals is critical for the next three months to enable producers to make decisions about finishing of cull animals.
The two unions expressed the hope that financial institutions will also respond to their request for support measures by these institutions to ease the producers’ cash flow management.
It transpired that many farmers – especially small-scale and communal but also commercial – were financially at crossroads and in dire need of emergency fodder as grazing is depleted by the day and the rains are staying away.
Last week turned into a chaotic one in which Namibian farmers received mixed messages about what types of forage can be imported from South Africa due to a ban after foot-and-mouth disease was detected in early January. This, despite the fact that the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) has spelled out what should and should not be done in the process.
The crisis of importing forage from South Africa is deepening as grazing in Namibia is deteriorating by the day and role players are seeking a solution and relief for producers in drought-stricken areas as well as for producers with intensive industries.
Representatives of the NAU, Livestock Producers (LPO) and other role players conducted a special meeting with the acting head of the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), Dr Albertina Shilongo where it was made clear that as Namibia is a net exporter of livestock and livestock products, DVS has a responsibility to maintain the current animal health status of the country.
South African authorities should provide the necessary guarantees, especially by providing information on the FMD outbreak and its control, to Namibia to enable the authorities to make decisions on imports of certain products. Currently, the problem is that Namibia is not receiving all the necessary information because South Africa is still investigating the extent of the FMD outbreak.
South Africa has no control over the movement or traceability of their animals and therefore their Department of Veterinary Services does not know whether animals have moved from the infected area to other parts of the country.
It is therefore critically important for Namibian DVS that the SA veterinarians certify that the forage was not in contact with animals.
The International Animal Health Organisation (OIE) makes proposals according to which straw an forage may be imported from the FMD contaminated neighbouring country, provided that it is veterinary certified: (1) roughage must be free of grossly identified contamination with material of animal origin; and (2) certain treatment (steam at 80 ºC for 10 min or with formaldehyde gas) of forage; or (3) that feed was isolated for at least four months before being released for export.
According to veterinary public notification (N0 3 of 2019) that was just released, DVS has indicated that they will accept baled forage and silage from any provinces in SA excluding Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal provinces.
The baled forage and silage must come from establishments that are fenced off and where there are no cloven hoofed animals.
Dr Shilongo can be reached at Tel:00264-61-208-7505S.
New Era Reporter
2019-02-11 09:41:30 9 days ago