Namibia’s cattle industry is slaughtering around 150 000 cows every year while the country’s livestock industry is worth a booming N$3.4 billion. Meatco confirmed these figures, in its 2019/20 annual report.
According to the report, for many years, the number of cattle slaughtered in Namibia has remained fairly constant at approximately 150 000 cattle per year.
Over the last decade, however, there was a steady decline in total marketable animals slaughtered in the country. Since 2009, competition from South African feedlots has increased exponentially, causing a worrying trend of producers favouring live exports to South Africa, the report said.
“The drought that began in Namibia in 2015 has also exacerbated this trend. The result is a morphing of the beef production system in Namibia from a slaughter ox to a weaner production system.”
This change has put the country’s livestock industry at risk because producers are dependent on South African markets being open for live exports.
“The consequences of this risky dependency were felt sharply this year as South Africa experienced two separate outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and had to close its borders to live exports,” the report stated.
The period under review saw Meatco slaughtering 116 304 cattle, with the highest number slaughtered in Meatco’s Windhoek abattoir.
“Because local abattoirs capacity is growing rapidly, sustainable cattle supply to Meatco remains one of the most critical value drivers in the red meat industry. Dynamic growth, therefore, lies in the export markets and Meatco’s mission gains national importance,” Meatco said in the report.
It is further stated that the annual slaughter-able cattle from producers coming to Meatco has been steadily dropping since 1992.
“This trend contrasts with the dramatic rise in the export of live cattle to the RSA. The production system of cattle has changed in favour of weaner-production, reducing the number of oxen produced for slaughter,” the report said, adding that the fear is that the livestock industry has reached a turning point from which recovery is only possible with concerted efforts from all the role-players in the industry.
Meanwhile, Meatco said this year, it paid N$1.1 billion to producers and drought-stricken farmers who needed Meatco’s support to sustain them through this period and hopefully assisted in recuperating their herds.
Looking ahead, Meatco said it will focus and drive actions together with stakeholders to uplift, capacitate, and enable all producers to benefit from mainstream livestock marketing opportunities in Namibia.
“Incorporating areas north of the fence would mean that Meatco would have potential access to 40 000 more pasture-raised cattle to present to high-end markets. Our goal is a 45% market share,” the corporation said.
Furthermore, the corporation said the over regulation is a strategic concern for the meat processing and marketing entity.
“The weaner production system tilt in the Namibian beef market is an obstacle for Meatco to circumvent. The Procurement Act’s guidelines also pose constrictions. The industry requires some innovation before growth can be realised,” it said.
A possible innovation, the corporation said it would be introducing a dual system of pasture raised, organic production and hormone raised, feedlot style production.
This it would widen Meatco’s market pool and increase market share.
Meatco’s strategic goal is to increase abattoir throughput to 160 000 per year by 2024; this would mean a minimum of 70% abattoir capacity utilisation throughout the year. “2019 has proven to us that we can do it.”