Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein has promoted the local beef industry, saying Namibia was one of a few African nations enjoying market access for beef to the United States, European Union and China.
Schlettwein, who was speaking during the just ended world expo in Dubai, said Namibia boasts as a producer of top-quality beef, with a healthy total cattle population of 2.5 million by 2019.
He said it is a multi-million-dollar industry in terms of total sales. The livestock industry comprises beef, goat and sheep products.
“Namibian beef and beef products are free from genetically modified organisms and the cattle stock is fed on rangeland. The sector is poised to supply the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East with high-quality beef, sheep, and goat products,” he stressed.
The latest statistics by the ministry of agriculture on livestock production show that there were 467 418 cattle marketed during 2019. The sheep population stood at 1.56 million and goats were 1.92 million during 2019. Data from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) suggests that the agriculture and forestry sectors contributed 6.5% (about N$11.4 billion) towards the 2020 GDP of N$176.3 billion. Further analysis revealed livestock production accounted for N$6.3 billion (or 54.7%) of the GDP – most of it from the beef sector.
The small stock sector has had an unfortunate and severe decline in numbers and profitability due to the impact of climate change and policy interventions. As a result, the cattle sector remains the cornerstone of agricultural production in the country.
Meat processing, a derivative of the livestock farming sector, contributed N$985 million to the 2020 GDP and accounted for 5.1% of manufacturing activity which is the seventh-most important of the 15 manufacturing sub-sectors of national accounts. He said Namibia maintains an animal disease-free zone for the central and southern parts of the country as well as the disease protection zone in the north.
Additionally, Schlettwein boasted the disease-free regime is on account of stringent animal health, sanitary and phytosanitary requirements that satisfy the best international standards.