26 Jun 2013 13:20
WINDHOEK, 26 JUN (NAMPA) - The DTA of Namibia president and Member of Parliament (MP) Katutire Kaura has called on Government to consider opening the borders of the country for the export of sheep.
Kaura, whose statement provoked loud debate among other lawmakers in the National Assembly on Wednesday, said this in light of the Meat Corporation of Namibia?s (Meatco) recent decision to cease sheep slaughtering because of losses incurred over the past five years.
The DTA MP expressed worry that Meatco?s decision was made in the middle of the current devastating drought in the country, and that many communal and commercial sheep farmers in the Hardap and Karas regions are thus operating at a loss.
?I felt that it was prudent to bring this issue to Parliament to revisit the decision that was taken in 2003 (2004 in fact) that stopped sheep and cattle to go on the hoof to South Africa in order to add value to our venison and beef,? Kaura explained.
In 2004, Government practically closed the border for sheep exports, directing that for every sheep exported life, six sheep must be slaughtered.
Many farmers, Kaura said, have thus opted to go into lucrative ventures instead of farming with sheep.
?It is more profitable to farm with goats, because at auctions the price for a goat outstrips that of a sheep,? Kaura pointed out.
He explained that while a 35-kilogramme goat could fetch N.dollars 15 per kilogramme (kg), a sheep of the same weight will fetch N.dollars 10 per kg.
However, if you take that sheep across the border to South Africa, it will get up to N.dollars 26 per kg, said Kaura.
?Can you see the unfairness? Goats are getting a good competitive price because they go on the hoof to Durban (South Africa),? the DTA leader complained.
Kaura then urged his fellow lawmakers to consider opening up the borders for sheep exports, ?in order to serve citizens equitably?.
He further said sheep farmers would be extremely grateful if the parliamentarians decide to open up the borders, saying the issue of value addition has brought pain, suffering and bankruptcy to those farmers who solely depend on the production of small livestock.
In response, Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein said the reason for halting the export of live sheep is that all beneficiating is done in South Africa and not Namibia.
?Principally, the decision of 2004 was taken to make sure that the raw materials that the country produces in the meat sector are beneficiated to the largest possible extent. And that argument still stands,? he said.
If the country does not engage in processing, value addition and beneficiation of its raw materials, the country will not be successful in creating wealth which can equitably be distributed, said the Trade Minister.
Other MPs such as Arnold Tjihuiko of Nudo supported Kaura?s statement, and felt that the 2004 decision by Government should be revisited.
However, three local abattoirs stand to benefit immensely from Meatco's decision to stop slaughtering sheep.
These are Brukkaros Meat Processors, Farmers Meat Market's Mariental abattoir and the Aranos abattoir.