• September 22nd, 2019

Repair work on red line resumes amid heated debate about moving the fence



Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK - The Meat Board of Namibia (MBN) is assisting the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) with maintenance of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF) through the appointment of temporary fencing teams, servicing of a grader, transporting of fencing material and, in collaboration with the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU), funding audits of the VCF and border fences to determine the status of the fences.
President Hage Geingob last year launched serious deliberations on the VCR, also known as the red line, which separates Namibia into north and south and his call echoed a suggestion for a different approach to fixing Namibia’s structural inequalities which implies moving the red line to the Angola border.
Work on the fence bordering the Etosha National Game Park started in February this year and over the last three months, five temporary workers have already repaired approximately 14 km of both the livestock and game fence between Leeurante and Safarihoek. The repair process is hampered by elephants and rhinos thatregularly break the fences in their search for water. 
The Meat Board has also, in this regard, paid for the service and repair of trucks and other crucial vehicles of DVS which are needed for repairing the fence. Due to financial limitation of the DVS, the contract of the team has been extended with an additional three months. Additionally, the Meat Board also repaired a road-grader of the DVS to grade the corridors between the veterinary fences from Mururani Gate to Rooidag Gate.
The red line stretches for over 1500km and it covers part of Oshana, Kavango East, Omusati, Zambezi, Omaheke, Kunene, and parts of Khomas and Oshikoto regions. The fence has effectively divided the Namibian beef industry into two separate value chains - the ‘white’ beef commercial value chain and the ‘black’ beef communal lands value chain.
More than half of the country’s 3.2 million cattle are in the northern ‘black’ beef value chain, which are the cordoned off communal areas.
At present, the lucrative Namibian beef industry global value chain makes Namibia a net exporter of beef. About 85 percent of the beef from this value chain is meant for exports with an annual monetary value estimated at N$2.5 billion to South Africa, the European Union, Norway and Russia and also to markets of China, the USA, Angola and other African countries.
The reasons for the establishment of the red line have been the topic of intense discussions over the years.
The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that brought about the fence was more than 40 years ago and it looked like the fence served no real purpose until two outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in recent years caused havoc north of the red line.
Many experts believe that the moving of the fence to the Angolan border will prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease and other livestock diseases to Namibia from Angola and also prevent ‘black’ northern communal farmers from grazing in Angola. More grazing for communal farmers can be created in other parts of the country like Kavango.
Many scholars believe this will strengthen the Namibian beef value chain in numbers, so it is necessary to merge the two value chains at all cost. Namibia will need more beef to export to the rest of the continent and large volumes are needed. To achieve this the ‘black’ northern communal value chain needs upgrading.
If Namibian beef is to be the main export to the rest of Africa and America under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), China and European Union, including Norway, Namibia will need huge supplies of beef. 
Some experts conclude that it makes perfect sense to integrate the two value chains into one by shifting the red line to the borders of Angola and upgrade the integrated value chain into a strong Namibian beef global value chain. In the process, Namibia will be able to create employment and wealth, taking its people out of 
poverty.
 


Staff Reporter
2019-05-14 09:55:44 4 months ago

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