Current livestock regulations affecting communal farmers

19 Jun 2014 15:10pm
WINDHOEK, 19 JUN (NAMPA) – The Namibia National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) on Thursday called on the government to aggressively explore alternative livestock markets, as communal farmers are severely affected by new veterinary regulations from neighbouring South Africa (SA).
Late last year, SA imposed stringent veterinary import conditions for Namibian livestock, especially those intended for direct slaughter and feedlots there.
Currently, all animals have to be tested as per the new permit in operation from 01 May 2014 after the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedure, which came into play in that country.
“The unilateral imposer of the decision did not give adequate space or time for alternative preparations for communal farmers,” Vetuundja Kazapua said during the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF)’s public dialogue on the future of the livestock industry in light of the new veterinary requirements by South Africa.
He said complying with the new export regulations, such as the testing of blood for Brucella, among other diseases, is a challenge for farmers due to a lack of camps for isolating vaccinated livestock from the rest of the herd before marketing.
Kazapua indicated that facilities and equipment to test animals’ samples in a short period of time is also a challenge, and so marketing activities such as auctions and the issuance of permits have come to a standstill and/or being cancelled.
The unionist said the prices of animals have dropped significantly since the new regulations were announced, and he thus called on meat producers such as Meatco, Witvlei Meat and Brukkaros Meat Processors to expand the local slaughter and feedlot capacities in order to accommodate local produce.
“It is time to explore Green Scheme projects’ potential to make room for fodder production,” he suggested.
Communal farmers must also change their production systems from weaners to oxen, where possible, and South Africa should really reconsider its position on animal importations.
On 10 June this year, South African livestock stakeholders held a meeting, and several resolutions were made regarding the Standard of Operating Procedure.
It was decided that the import requirement will be streamlined to facilitate trade, whilst safeguarding South African animals’ health status.
They also agreed in principle that livestock destined for abattoirs and feedlots may be handled differently from those meant for breeding purposes.
This is likely to take place as from 01 July this year.
“The single Standard Operating Procedure will cover cattle and sheep destined for slaughter, and a serious concern to us is the omission of goats from the exemption,” Kazapua stressed.
He said goats which are destined for the South African markets are still facing serious problems as they can only be delivered live, so other markets seem to be the long-term solution.
Namibia exports approximately 160 000 weaners, 90 000 sheep and 240 000 goats to South Africa as per that country’s requirement.