There has been a tremendous increase in pig farming with more farmers showing interest after the recent introduction of a trial pig protection scheme.
Namibian pig farmers now aim at producing 60 percent of all pork in the Namibian market locally. Presently only about 23 to 25 percent of pig products are sourced locally, while the rest is imported mainly from South Africa.
The Pig Producers Association says it is inundated with phone calls from interested people on a daily basis. The calls are coming from small farmers interested in pig farming, said the association's chairperson Flip de Villiers. "Our quality of pig meat is very good and it should be protected from cheap imports," de Villiers said.
The Meat Board introduced the Pig Protection Scheme in October 2012 on a trial basis to promote and protect local pig producers. Through the scheme, the Meat Board worked out a formula for pork prices, which fluctuates on a monthly basis.
The Meat Board takes South African pig prices and adds the difference to Namibian feed and transportation costs to come up with the monthly price. The scheme further stipulates that processors or abattoirs first source 1kg of pork locally, before they can get a permit to import 3kg from South Africa, Brazil or elsewhere.
This prompted processors to source local products increasingly, compared to the past, which in turn boosted the local market. "As a result Feed Master has been producing more feed in recent times and the bigger pig producers have started to expand," de Villiers added.
He is however reluctant to put a figure to the current growth as yet, until he has the exact figures at hand by the end of January. De Villiers is confident that government will adopt the pilot scheme as an official protection mechanism for the pig industry, once it is satisfied with the progress.
However, some producers are reportedly aggrieved by the new mechanism, since they can no longer import cheaper pork in huge quantities as before. "These people are unhappy, because they used to import pork for between R16.00 to R18.00 and now they have to buy this for about N$27.00," he added.
According to de Villiers, Brazilian farmers are dumping their cheap products in South Africa, which in turn dumps them in Namibia, thus hurting local producers in the process. He also expressed the hope that a meeting slated for the end of January would address all the concerns raised by producers and other interested parties.
There are about 600 pig producers in the country, while more than 500 of them are very small farmers, some even with only three to ten pigs. Pig producers can be found all over the country, but mostly in areas where there are plantations such as maize plantations from where pigs can be fed. None of the pigs or pork produced locally is exported.