30 Dec 2016 11:40am
By Anna Salkeus
WINDHOEK, 30 DEC (NAMPA) Namibia hopes to promote its game meat production industry and exports to regional and international markets by 2020, after game was identified as a niche market with potential to grow.
Acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Calicious Tutalife told Nampa on Thursday, the intervention would be done through the ministrys execution strategies for industrialisation. This focuses on game harvesting and processing as well as the development of a value chain for game products.
According to the ministrys Growth Strategy for Namibias Game Meat Industry and Associated Value Chains, South African meat products are increasingly marketed in Namibia at the expense of local products.
Local dried game meat manufacturers, in particular, are thus encouraged to increase their marketing, branding and promotion efforts.
Major game species for meat production in Namibia are Gemsbok, Springbok, Kudu, Hartmanns mountain Zebra and Red Hartebeest.
Tutalife also stated that game is a niche market which can be further developed because wild animals are not prone to or affected by diseases that affect domestic animals, like the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
He said there has been a fluctuation in the domestic production of game meat in the past.
Overall, we can see some growth but there has been a bit of fluctuation, hence the need to see if we can maintain the level of performance because fluctuations are not good; they create uncertainties in the industry, Tutalife said.
He said venturing into game farming depends on various factors, including profitability and the policy environment being conducive enough.
Namibia has a mixed track record of mostly small-scale attempts to commercially export game meat to international markets.
Namibia exported over 1 000 tonnes of game meat worth more than N.dollars 50 million to South Africa in 2013 and game meat products of 456 tonnes valued at N.dollars 11 million.
The export activities have largely been confined to small amounts of processed products: biltong (dried meat) and droëwors (dried sausage).
In 2014 and 2015, export volumes of both game meat and game meat products fell, with game meat exports plummeting to 86 tonnes (about N.dollars 2.1 million) in 2014 and 38 tonnes (N.dollars 931 000) in 2015, while game meat products fell to 209 tonnes (N.dollars 5,1 million) in 2014. No data are available for 2015.
Tutalife said commercial banks are also reluctant to supply loans, especially for larger investments in the game meat value chain, and along with charging higher interest rates than development banks, they require high collateral.
He added that currently products that fly off the shelves are a limited menu of beef which is the main steak, followed by mutton, pork and lamb. However, fresh game meat is not readily available on these shelves or menus of food outlets.
The value of wild game is derived from slaughtering and serving the meat in different forms, and the hides which are processed into leather.
Wild animals are also a tourism attraction and popular for trophy hunting, which are aspects that are not comparable to beef that does not attract tourism or trophy hunting.
The ministry launched its strategy for the game industry in November 2016 with its targeted goals aimed at increasing the overall value of game meat product sales from less than N.dollars 200 million in 2015 to N.dollars 300 million by 2020.
Interventions include improving the industrys contribution to sustainable wildlife by creating an enabling environment for professional game farming and harvesting, increased output of high quality meat by supporting new investments in game meat, and repositioning Namibian game meat production on local, regional and international markets.