Staff Reporter WINDHOEK – Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister, Alpheus !Naruseb, has instructed his permanent secretary to conduct an impact study to determine and obtain information, facts and reasons for the current state of affairs regarding the decline in beef and sheep numbers offered to export abattoirs. All the different role players in the livestock and meat industry will form part of the process and the minister stressed that any further decision or intervention will have to be based on actual data and information. The decision to revise the industry follows a ministerial and industry role players’ meeting held recently. Various opinions and reasons for the state of affairs were raised, after which minister !Naruseb ordered that the impact study must be undertaken. Possible mitigation measures to safeguard the livestock industry and increase beef and sheep numbers were put on the table. One of them is to de-bush grazing land. Currently bush encroachment is a major hindering factor to the availability of grazing. It has been proven that a farmer can increase his/her herd threefold after proper de-bushing was done. De-bushing will assist farmers in raising animals beyond the weaner stages to qualify for prime beef markets. Another alternative is to increase the number of feedlots and their carrying capacity in the country. Companies like Meatco are working hard on this venture, and finalised a feedlot in Omaheke and another one close to Otavi to help alleviate the strain of the high number of animals taken currently at Okapuka feedlot. The biggest advantage of feedlots is that it is the most manageable way to raise a large number of cattle for beef production. Feedlots require more grain or corn products feeding, which unfortunately for Namibia are sourced from outside the country due to inadequate green scheme projects. The agricultural ministry, as owner of two newly built local abattoirs at Eenhana and Outapi, has entered into a lease agreement with the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association for ten years. A business agreement between the association and Africa Meat Supplies, namely Northern Namibia Abattoirs, was established to operate both the Outapi and Eenhana abattoirs. In support of the initiative, the Meat Board organised an information day at Outapi recently, which was attended by over 180 producers, some of them travelling from as far as Kunene, to learn about the supply of cattle to the abattoirs. Given the absence of a formal slaughter market in the areas north of the veterinary cordon fence since mid-2015, the Meat Board is very positive about the operationalization of the abattoirs and wishes Northern Namibia Abattoirs every success. The abattoirs intend to be in operation before September. The Meat Board in collaboration with the Meat Board office at Katima Mulilo also held a highly successful information day at Katima Mulilo two weeks ago. About 157 producers from as far as Impalila Island attended the day. The Meat Board emphasised its concern about the lack of markets for beef producers in the Zambezi Region. In addition, contributions were made by the State Veterinarian, Intervet, Namibian Police and Agribank. The Meat Board has indicated that renovation to the Katima Mulilo abattoir started on July 23 - a step welcomed by all parties. A total of 421,000 cattle were marketed last year of which 313,000 have been exported to SA feedlots and 107,000 have been slaughtered locally. A definite shift away from slaughtering at export abattoirs in favour of local abattoirs was noticed. Various reasons could be offered such as higher prices and less compliance costs.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-31 09:35:13 6 months ago