Staff Reporter Windhoek – Deputy Agriculture, Water and Forestry minister, Anna Shiwedha, says the government would assess the viability of the sheep exporting scheme to mitigate losses. Shiwedha made this statement in the National Assembly last week while answering a question of Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)’s parliamentarian Nico Smit. Her answer comes with a decrease in the production of sheep in the past 15 years from about 1.2 million per annum to just 700,000 in 2017, contributing to the shrinking of the small stock industry by almost 50 percent. This prompted the LPO to point out to the technical committee of the Meat Board of Namibia (MBN) during an urgent meeting earlier this year that more job opportunities were destroyed in the primary sector of the industry against attempts to be created in abattoirs by implementing the system in 2003. The LPO made it clear that producers cannot be held responsible for the subsidisation of others and financing the industrialisation of Namibia. Producers have been raising their voices and expressing their dissatisfaction with the scheme for years and some changes were made to the scheme but it never lived up to the expectations of producers. They have claimed that the “ill-conceived” scheme incurs over N$177 million in losses per annum, and that it has been a source of concern for local farmers since its introduction. Producers’ concerns about the scheme go back to 2012 when a special report was compiled pointing out that farmers and workers have suffered serious economic losses attributed to the scheme, asking if these farmers would be compensated. The scheme, introduced to stimulate value addition to sheep and sheep products locally, currently works to export a ratio of 1:1 after it was reviewed from the 15%-30% “ad valorem flexibility levy” in 2013. The slaughter to export ratio implies that the producer (farmer) would be permitted to export one sheep after slaughtering one in local abattoirs. The sheep scheme was introduced in 2003 to benefit producers and the national economy through value addition and support for the Growth at Home strategy. It was perceived to contribute to employment creation, and to support the “throughput” of local abattoirs through the reduction of small stock exported to South Africa on the hoof. Although the deputy minister denied that the annual losses in the sheep industry were attributable to the scheme, she acknowledged that the scheme had faced challenges “that hampered the achievement of its intended objectives” for the past years. “There is no tangible evidence suggesting that the alleged losses were solely due to the scheme in question, neither is there an independent study which concluded that the misfortunes in the sheep industry are attributable to the scheme.” “There are many factors that can, directly and indirectly, contribute to the alleged losses, for instance drought, unfair competition and shipping of livestock on the hoof to South Africa,” she stated. The deputy minister said the “review exercise” was thus necessary to address the challenges identified over the years, adding that the exercise will “objectively look at the viability of the domestic marketing of small stock based on the production cost, revenues and profit margins”. Through this exercise, the ministry would also determine the viability of small stock abattoirs as well as tanneries, focusing on processing costs revenue and profit margins. “The result of the planned exercise should advise the government on win-win interventions in the interest of the country and the industry as a whole,” she noted.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-24 09:48:58 9 months ago