WINDHOEK – The Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) and the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) hastily organised talks with emerging and communal producers as well as government and financial institutions following rumours of border control on the export of weaners which has been under discussion since November 2017.
The meetings were aimed at raising awareness of the impact on the Namibian industry if such measures are implemented. No formal proposals in this regard are yet available even though the Namibian weaner industry is aware that there are certain local organisations and in SA that are adamant to impose stringent import rules. This follows heated debates about the surge in weaner price paid by South African agents at auctions locally at the start of the year. This negatively impacted the entire business value chain of Namibia’s biggest slaughtering houses, affecting live animals (raw material) available for Meatco’s feedlots and other facilities, as well as on the throughput of slaughter animals to abattoirs in the next two to three years.
Weaner producers fear such a move, given the 2013 experience when SA introduced new animal health import measures which made it virtually impossible for Namibian producers to export weaners. SA eventually introduced more lenient permits for exports to feedlots that reduced the need for compulsory pre-export brucellosis testing and double TB resting.
Sheep and goats do not have to be tested anymore and cattle only have to be tested for TB once within 30 days before export. Two critical questions arise from this situation: Meatco, farmers and the Namibian beef industry want to know how will this trend ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector going forward, and what will encourage the average farmer to keep his/her weaners and raise them into slaughter-ready cattle?
The manager: livestock procurement – commercial of Meatco, Abrie van Wyk, says on a short-term basis Meatco is under pressure to purchase weaners due to the high prices for specific younger weight categories predominately offered by the SA feedlots. “Similarly, this trend affects Meatco in the long term because producers who are currently marketing their weaners in return for these high prices, are now depleting the animal (weaner) numbers that should be slaughtered through the abattoir in 2019.”
“Additionally, for the Namibian farmer to buy these weaners at the present high purchase price and raise them until oxen level continues to be less financially beneficial due to the negative implications it poses on production systems at this stage,” Van Wyk added.
“The biggest challenge for Namibia at the moment is the lack of producing grain/fodder in bulk to retain weaners exported to South Africa,” Goliath Tujendapi, the Meat Board of Namibia’s manager: trade & strategic marketing, says. “Through this, between 160,000 and 200,000 weaners continue to be exported to that market every year.”