Drought continues with alarming impact on meat industry: Rukoro

23 Jul 2013 11:40
WINDHOEK, 23 JUL (NAMPA) - Less cattle are expected for slaughtering in the near future, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) said on Tuesday.
Advocate Veii Rukoro raised the concern during a media conference here, saying the ongoing drought continues with devastating effects on the livestock industry.
'A further decrease of slaughter cattle is expected for the 2014/2015 financial year, similar to the drought situation between 1996 and 1998,” he noted.
According to Rukoro, the situation has become ‘dire’, and will not change overnight.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared a state of emergency in May this year, while government rolled out a N.dollars 50 million-drought assistance scheme for farmers in June 2013.
The situation has led to many communities surviving on wild fruits, while many now depend only on drought-relief handouts.
Hundreds of cattle have also perished.
Rukoro said many farmers have abandoned the industry because of several reasons, which include the current drought situation, the effects of bush encroachment on grazing, or perhaps that farmers are now venturing into game farming, which is a more a lucrative business, compared to cattle farming.
The decrease in slaughtered cattle at Meatco could also be because animals are moved between borders and slaughtered anywhere else, and not necessarily at the corporation.
It is estimated that 70 000 cattle are slaughtered by butchers for the local market.
According to Meatco’s annual report for the 2012/2013 financial year and issued in June this year, a total of 96 296 cattle were slaughtered south of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF), compared to 102 260 the previous year.
A total of 10 890 cattle were slaughtered in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), compared to 18 014 the previous year.
Although cattle numbers in the NCA are slowly rising, very low cattle numbers were produced and slaughtered at the abattoirs in that region during the year under review.
Meanwhile, Rukoro said Meatco believes in an open-border trade of cattle among countries to the benefit of the industry.
However, if not regulated, it could have negative consequences for the sector.
“After this devastating drought, there will be restocking of cattle and farming activities will continue, but only over a number of years. It is a very expensive exercise,” he added.