ONGWEDIVA – Farmers in the northern communal areas have thrown their weight behind calls to remove the infamous veterinary cordon fence, popularly known as the red line.
The farmers have, however, pleaded with government to ensure there are measures in place to safeguard the meat industry.
Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) acting vice president Amon Kapi said the removal of the red line is part of the union’s vision but stressed the fence should be removed in a manner that protects and does not disrupt the meat industry.
The union’s focus is to ensure farmers, irrespective of their locality, have access to a lucrative market.
Kapi said government has a daunting task to ensure farmers in the NCAs can sell their meat products.
“It is not a thing of removing the red line today or tomorrow, but all the necessary steps should be followed for all to benefit from the international market,” said Kapi.
The union further added the government’s responsibility will not end with the removal of the red line.
The union does also not wish to see a situation where there will be setbacks once the red line is removed.
Chairperson of the Mangetti Farmers Association Ismael Shailemo said he does not wish to dwell on the issue of the red line.
But, he said, the association is pleading with government to ensure all quarantine facilities in the NCA are operational.
This, he said, is to ensure the authorities create market access for the farmers.
According to Shailemo, once all the quarantine
facilities are operational, farmers will be able to slaughter their cattle at well-equipped, fully functional abattoirs, and they will be able to export their meat beyond Namibia.
“The red line should go ahead – but now, we want the quarantine facilities across the north to be operational,” said Shailemo.
He said the association’s focus at the moment is to ensure the farmers have access to a market.
Shailemo said the association is not objecting to the removal of the red line, but while they wait for it to happen, their farmers should have access to a market.
He stressed that the removal will not happen overnight, as it also requires a lot of funds.
“The red line will not be removed overnight. But if we don’t create a market, surviving will be hard if nothing is done,” said Shailemo.
Chief veterinary in the North West subdivision Kenneth Shoombe said the quarantine facility is ready to receive livestock.
Shoombe said if livestock passes the quarantine requirements and are presented at the export abattoir for slaughter, then the meat can be exported to any country as long as it complies with the ‘meat import’ of that country.
In a bid to contain the spread of a Rinderpest outbreak in Namibia in 1896, Imperial Germany built Fort Namutoni as a police station to control north-south travel of the indigenous population and their livestock.
The line went further to Okaukuejo in the west and Otjituuo in the east.
Historians say the name, the red line, stems from the depiction in red ink on a 1911 map, created by the German colonial administration.
Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement leader and Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda has dragged the government to court to demand the red line to be removed.
He says the existence of the red line is degrading, inhumane, discriminatory and unconstitutional.