09 Jul 2014 11:20am
By Maggy Thomas
WINDHOEK, 09 JUL (NAMPA) - Namibia is the dominant player in intra-Southern African Development Community (SADC) trade in livestock, a senior SADC official has said.
Despite duty-free trade in the region, agricultural markets in the region remain fragmented. In particular, intra-regional trade in livestock is very low, almost non-existent, with the exception of Namibia, said Paul Kalenga, the senior trade policy advisor at the SADC Secretariat in Botswana.
He told Nampa on the sidelines of the Agricultural Trade Forum Public Dialogue, which took place in Windhoek last week Namibia export more than 90 per cent of its livestock, and these exports are almost exclusively destined to South Africa (SA) and Angola.
Namibia export 90,14 per cent of livestock to other SADC countries, of which 87,68 per cent is destined to South Africa and 1,97 per cent to Angola.
SA, in turn, export 7,22 per cent mainly to Mauritius, while Botswana export 2,03 per cent of livestock mainly to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe export 0.12 per cent, Zambia 0,11 per cent, Tanzania 0,07 per cent, Swaziland 0,07 per cent, while Madagascar export 0,10 per cent and Lesotho 0,09.
Angola export the least (0,06 per cent).
Namibias share of intra-SADC cattle exports stands at 87,35 (84,65 per cent to SA), while goat export within SADC stands at 96,86 per cent (93,99 percent to SA). Namibias share of intra-SADC sheep export is 98,75 per cent (97,89 per cent to SA).
Namibian-born Kalenga suggested that Namibia will find it difficult, if not impossible, to diversify into regional markets, probably not because the region does not want to consume and process the country's livestock, but largely on account of policy and regulatory barriers to trade.
He attributed the low intra-regional trade in livestock to among others, inadequate livestock production capacity in the region, import/export restrictions imposed by governments, health concerns manifesting into Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Veterinary measures which are difficult to meet, and generally inward-looking policies.
The SPS measures, also known as the SPS Agreement, is an international treaty of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
It was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and entered into force with the establishment of the WTO at the beginning of 1995.
Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets constraints on member states' policies relating to food safety (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labelling) as well as animal and plant health (phytosanitation) with respect to imported pests and diseases.
Whatever the case, this state of affairs have implications on the potential to develop regional value chains in agro-food processing as desired by policy makers towards the promotion of regional integration, explained Kalenga.
Currently, Namibian communal farmers are severely affected by new veterinary regulations from neighbouring SA.
Late last year, SA imposed stringent veterinary import conditions for Namibian livestock, especially those intended for direct slaughter and feedlots there.
Namibia exports approximately 160 000 weaners, 90 000 sheep and 240 000 goats to South Africa as per that countrys requirement.
Livestock constitute an important natural resource for the southern African Region, with over 60 per cent of the regions total land area suitable for livestock farming, contributing significantly to food security across the SADC region.
He noted that good spirited provisions in various trading agreements such as Southern African Customs Union (SACU) 2002 agreement, SADC Protocol on Trade, and SADC Agricultural and Industrial Policy frameworks appear to remain still far from reality.
The farm animal resources of SADC are rich and immensely diverse, with livestock populations in SADC estimated at 64 million cattle, 39 million sheep, 38 million goats, 7 million pigs, 1 million horses and 380 million poultry.
Traditionally, these farm animals are a source of food, skins, fertiliser, traction power, medicine and other raw materials for the population of the region.
An estimated of 75 per cent of the above livestock population is kept under smallholder traditional farming systems.
Kalenga said SADC countries do not trade much in livestock, suggesting that there may be regulatory barriers to regional trade legitimate but may also be strict so as to protect domestic livestock industries.
He then called on the SADC countries to focus both on developing competitiveness of the domestic livestock sector, including increasing capacity to meet animal health standards as well as promoting domestic value addition.
At the regional level, these countries must develop an engagement strategy within SADC and SACU to improve market access conditions involving regulatory reform and promoting regional value chain development across the region, said Kalenga.
The SADC region comprises of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.