SA lifts Namibian livestock import ban

Aidan Soule - Monday, January 12, 2015

WINDHOEK – After some three months in which exports of Namibian livestock to South Africa came to a grinding halt, local producers now have access to the profitable market again with relaxed import requirements from South African authorities.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry announced the veterinary authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa have revised the conditions for the importation of cattle, sheep and goats from Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland with effect from August 26.

Regional representatives expressed their positive opinions with regard to the livestock production situation in their various regions while the Meat Board described the revised conditions for export as “very good news” welcomed the lifting of the ban.

It transpired good and sufficient grazing in the bigger commercial area of Namibia and in most communal areas enables producers to keep their livestock during the uncertainty in the market which was created by the unexpected strict import requirements by South Africa.

These new regulations were effected on 01 May, but despite the uncertainty, the market is busy to adapt to these requirements, which support the weaner price, and with the revised conditions things can only look up from here.

Namibian producers exported only 441 cattle, 13 171 goats and 731 sheep to South Africa until the end of July but indications are that these exports will now increase dramatically as producers adapt to the various new requirements.

The sudden drop in national auction prices, as was feared originally, did not materialise and only certain areas in the south, which, due to the distance, felt a bigger impact.

Cattle and small stock are exported to South Africa and is building momentum as farmers, exporters and agents determined themselves about the definition of a herd as well as the vaccinations and tests which are required before cattle may be imported to South Africa.

The required conditions are now as follows:

The livestock must originate from Foot and Mouth Disease Free Zones of Namibia and not within 5km radius of any farm under restriction for Rift Valley and may not transit through a Rift Valley fever infected zone; The farm of origin must not be under any veterinary restrictions; All animals to be exported must be identified by means of a permanent mark in the case of sheep and goats; and hot iron brand in the case of cattle. Owner specific ear tags are to be used in the case of sheep and goats. Cattle are required to bear individual identification by means of Namibia Animal Identification and Traceability System (NamLITS) ear tags and marked with owner specific hot-iron brand marks.

Exporters are also required to obtain a permit from the Registrar of Livestock Improvement of South Africa except if the animals are intended for direct slaughter.

After some six months of intense deliberations about the devastating effects of South Africa’s new export requirements for livestock from Namibia, local producers started enjoying some relief since the first quarter of July.

General Manager of the Meat Board, Paul Strydom, says a team of experts was recently established to conduct an in-depth study of the financial implications of Namibia revamping all its existing abattoirs and slaughter houses locally. The Meat Board also suggested that exports to our northern neighbours (Angola, DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe) should be researched while a market in the Middle East for goats should be explored.

Local slaughtering capacity must be increased and under-utilised farms must be made available. In the medium term, it should be investigated how more animals could be rounded off locally for feedlots, amongst others. Structural changes to herds may also have to take place in future.

Namibia’s multi-billion dollar Namibian livestock industry on whose livelihood some 70 percent of the 2.2 million inhabitants depend, rakes in more than N$2 billion annually from an average of 160 000 weaners exported to South Africa, as well as 100 000 sheep and about 240 000 goats.

Communal famers make up for about 60 percent of the total export.

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