Cattle exports will badly affect industry over next three years

15 Nov 2013 10:30am
WINDHOEK, 15 NOV (NAMPA) - Namibian farmers have exported too many heads of cattle and kept too little for restocking and herd-building in future, an official at the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) stated this week.
Meatco’s Executive for Policy Innovation, Stakeholder Relations and Corporate Affairs, Vehaka Tjimune said in a media statement on Thursday that the current drought situation has led to many farmers deciding to export their cattle.
“The increase in live exports during this period was an effect of many farmers who went into a state of panic because of the poor veld conditions their herd had to adapt to.
This situation calls for an immediate and deliberate policy intervention if Namibia wants to have a healthy and well-functioning livestock and slaughter industry after this drought,” he noted.
The consequences of cattle leaving Namibia will affect the whole cattle and slaughter industry for the next three years.
Tjimune forecasted that more than 280 000 cattle will have left the country on the hoof by the end of 2013.
A large amount of cows which should have calved next year, have also left the country on the hoof.
This means that much fewer calves will be born in Namibia in 2014, with a knock-on effect to the rest of the local cattle industry, resulting in the reduced availability of slaughter stock in 2016 as well.
He cited that in the past after drought situations, Namibian farmers were allowed to import cows from South Africa for herd-building.
As a result of South Africa’s current Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) status, borders are now closed for imports from South Africa. Thus, farmers have to build their herds with the cows they currently have in stock.
At the moment, Botswana is an alternative country which can be considered by farmers with regards to cattle imports, Tjimune indicated.
He said in some areas of Botswana, the health status is on par with the health status of Namibia south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF).
Botswana is now also experiencing a drought situation. Thus, authorities there were forced to open the borders for cattle exports.
As from August 2013 until December 2013, the borders of Botswana are thus open for live cattle exports. However, the Namibian border is conversely closed for the import of animals from Botswana at the moment.
Currently, Botswana is the only African country which can assist Namibia with herd-building. Once South Africa’s health status is cleared, they will also be able to assist local farmers.
“In a normal herd-building cycle, it takes about three to four years to build a herd. But after this year’s drought, it would take much longer.
The fact remains that it will be three very challenging years for the cattle and slaughter industry countrywide,” Tjimune added.