23 Oct 2013 18:20pm
WINDHOEK, 23 OCT (NAMPA) The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on Wednesday announced that Namibia will, for the first time, export bone-in beef to Zimbabwe from the Northern Communal Areas (NCA).
The move was prompted by the current drought as large numbers of livestock are dying daily due to the drought conditions, Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa said during a media conference here on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe has agreed to import a once-off quota of 1 000 tonnes of bone-in-beef spread over a 20-month period with a monthly quota not exceeding 50 tonnes. The opening of this door is not, by any means, one-sided. We shall look forward to reciprocal trade for the mutual benefits of our two countries, he noted.
The beef will come primarily from the farmers that are currently involved in the community-based rangeland and livestock management (CBRLM) project as well as other farmers in the NCAs.
The target areas include Kavango East to Kunene North and in between the regions of Kavango West, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Oshana and Omusati.
The area has a population of 1,4 million cattle, about 707 000 goats and 66 000 sheep. According to Mutorwa, there has been a phenomenal growth in the livestock population in the said area with an average annual increase in cattle of 10 per cent, eight per cent in goats and six per cent in sheep for the past six years. This is in contrast to a national annual increase of four per cent in cattle and no growth in small stock (sheep and goats).
The area is currently designated for animal disease control purposes, as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) protection zone. Mutorwa raised the concern that it is still unfortunate that although this area has technically been FMD-free for decades, it is designated as such as it lies between the infected zone to the east, and the FMD-free zone in the south of Namibia.
It is an area where the Directorate of Veterinary Services conduct intensified animal disease surveillance and results of that have consistently demonstrated that the FMD is absent from the area.
The meat will be derived from the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco)s Oshakati abattoir, which is an export-related slaughter facility.
Mutorwa pledged a high standard of the quality of meat in terms of sanitary requirements of Namibia.
He emphasised that collaboration between Namibia and Zimbabwe has been excellent and covers a number of sectors that are too many to enumerate here.
Speaking about the existing friendship between Namibia and Zimbabwe, Mutorwa suggested that the two countries should grow from strength to strength for the benefits and socio-economic development of the people.
At the same occasion, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Namibia Chipo Zindoga said her country had to do something to alleviate the plight of farmers whose cattle were dying from the drought.
Zimbabwe has already issued the permits. I therefore hope that there will not be unnecessary delays in exporting that beef. We need to ensure that the export of the beef is sustained for a long time. It should continue for the foreseeable future, she noted.