• July 20th, 2019
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FMD aftershocks hit Namibian livestock sector like a tsunami

Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK - The impact of the meat export ban due to the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak and a serious drought in South Africa (SA)  is now rolling over Namibian livestock producers like a tsunami, with a dramatic drop in sheep prices at SA abattoirs and an equal dramatic increase in maize prices.

FMD in SA caused an immediate ban on all imports of cloven hooved animals as well as their products and effects various fodder products to Namibia. All red meat exports from SA to export countries were stopped and ships transporting meat had to turn back. SA beef and sheep meat exports have already suffered a loss of N$1.8 billion due to this and now this meat must be absorbed in the local market. 

This caused a massive beef surplus in SA shop shelves and beef has to compete with sheep and mutton, resulting in a drastic drop of sheep prices at SA abattoirs and declined income for Namibian sheep producers.  

A concerned chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) of Namibia, Piet Blaauw, informs that the LPO already surveyed the production conditions and is aware that this is a national crisis and very little extra roughage is currently available from fellow producers. “We predict that very little help can be generated locally and discussions about this will be held this week. An urgent appointment with the minister of agriculture will then be requested to inform him about this critical situation as well as to make proposals on how to bring relief on short term. Let us trust that February will look better than January and the FMD outbreak will come under control and SA will soon regain its status as export country,” he notes. 

Blaauw says January is a standard “slim month” after the December holidays, with schools reopening. “On top of it, there is no end in sight of the drought, and maize plantings in SA are drastically reduced and emergency marketing takes place and herd building is stopped. Yellow maize already increased and can increase up to import parity which is now approximately N$3 200 per tonne,” he laments.  

This resulted in feeding pens - that were already under financial pressure in 2018 - buy less at a lower price per kg and this affects the Namibian producer directly. Slaughtering prices in SA are also down because exports have been stopped. 
“This confirms the LPO’s point of view that our livestock industry is built on three pillars and not one is less or more important than the other –
Exports to EU and Norway by export abattoirs
local market provision by abattoirs who slaughter for the local market  live exports of weaners and lambs to RSA,” Blaauw reiterates.

With regard to sheep/lamb the impact was drastically and unexpected. A decrease from N$68,00/kg to N$50,00/kg represents about 27 percent and is even higher if one realises that lamb sold for more than N$72,00/kg before Christmas. “We are receiving confusing signs from the market, but like with beef, the sheep herd building phase has been discontinued in SA and increased slaughtering due to high prices in Nov/Dec have financially benefitted producers,” Blaauw observes. 

The meat producers in SA are under enormous pressure due to the drought and FMD outbreak and there is no indication about the period before exports to international markets can be resumed. Chairperson of the Red Meat Producers Organisation in SA, Koos van der Rhyst last week said the FMD outbreak comes at a time when the industry is suffering from a country-wide drought.  Feed and maize prices have escalated and the consumer’s purchasing power is under pressure.  This is in the midst of a herd rebuilding phase after the 2016 drought. All these factors put the producers’ cash flow and financial survival under pressure. All these factors represent a challenge to the mission of the RPO which is based on the facilitation of a competitive and sustainable red meat environment for the producer.

“In the previous year (January to December 2018), a total of 29 180 tonnes of beef has been exported, which represents 4,02 percent of local production. The market value of these exports amounts to R1 790 918 024-73. During the same period 701.2-tonnes of sheep meat has been exported at a value of R43 164 652-36, representing 0.69 percent of the local production. 16 474 815 sheep skins to the value of R594 182 260-36 and 8 552 648 kg of hides to the value of R102 445 668, were exported,” he stated.

New Era Reporter
2019-01-28 09:23:45 5 months ago

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