31 Mar 2015 19:20pm
WINDHOEK, 31 MAR (NAMPA) The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) plans to slaughter 2 520 tonnes of meat during the 2015/2016 financial year for the Zimbabwean market, as previous export figures were below the target.
A 2015/2016 Accountability Report that was released together with the same financial years budget by the Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein in Parliament on Tuesday, lamented that the Zimbabwean market could present better opportunities for farmers but due to droughts in the last financial year, the condition of cattle was not ideal for export.
Government in 2013 began opening up livestock markets in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for farmers in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), which excludes the Zambezi Region due to the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus in circulation among wild buffaloes.
However, slaughter and export figures for the 2013/2014 financial year are below the target due to the six-month closure of and halt in the slaughter of cattle at the Meatco Katima Mulilo abattoir after an FMD outbreak, and also due to a decrease in the marketing of cattle due to the drought situation in Namibia. Although the Zimbabwean market offered good prices for beef per kilogramme, the condition of cattle was not optimal due to the drought, the report lamented.
Namibia dispatched its maiden truck of beef from the NCAs to Zimbabwe in November 2013. The deal followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the relevant ministries, the Millennium Challenge Account, Namibias Community-Based Rangeland and Livestock Management Project, as well as the Northern Communal Areas Livestock Marketing Forum.
Beef exports to Zimbabwe are also made possible through a joint venture between the Namibian private sector and farmers cooperatives, which were established with the aim to organise auctions as well as generate commission among themselves.
At least 60 per cent of Namibia's population reside in the NCAs, which include the Kavango East and Kavango West regions, northern areas of the Kunene Region, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana, Zambezi and part of Oshikoto regions. These areas also accommodate at least 60 per cent of the livestock population in the country.
However, livestock in these areas only contribute 10 per cent to the Namibian Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the off-take rate in livestock sales is only four per cent, according to 2013 statistics issued by the MAWF.