NEW animal health conditions recently introduced by South Africa for livestock imports from Namibia are so stringent that local farmers say meeting them will put them out of business.
Farmers claim that, if the new measures are implemented, expenses will be out of reach because the export requirements will be very high.
The expenses will include putting animals in feedlots and providing a range of expensive animal disease injections.
The stringent veterinary conditions were introduced on 1 May.
Government figures show that approximately 160 000 weaners, 90 000 sheep and 240 000 goats are exported to South Africa annually.
A comprehensive list of the conditions provided to The Namibian by John Shoopala, acting Chief Veterinary Officer at the Directorate of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, shows that the South Africa wants cattle imports from countries that have never reported an outbreak of mad cow disease and that there is a ban on feeding of ruminant meat and bone meal to animals.
Such countries should also not have reported lung plague and foot and mouth disease for six months prior to export.
Herds should also be free from Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis/Infectious Pustular Vulvovaginitis (IBR/IPV) (a disease of domestic and wild cattle) and that the animals must be vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine not more than six months prior to export.
The other condition is that the cattle must come from herds where no cases of Tuberculosis and Brucellosis have been reported over a period of two years and the entire herd tested negative in the last 12 months.
The animals must also be kept in pre-export isolation in preparation for export and must have not been exposed to infection during this period.
For Brucellosis disease, females under the age of 18 months must be inoculated with an approved vaccine between the ages of four and eight months.
In the case of breeding bulls, a clinical and laboratory examination for Vibriosis and Trichomoniasis is required and also that the should have never been vaccinated against Foot and Mouth Disease and must have been vaccinated against Anthrax at least 14 days but not longer than 12 months prior to export.
The animals are also required to be treated for internal parasites and external parasites within 72 hours prior to departure.
Another export condition is that the cattle must be loaded and the vehicle sealed effectively under the direct supervision of an official authorised by the Namibian veterinary authorities.
For goats and sheep, most export conditions are similar to those of cattle. One additional condition for small stock is that the flocks must be free from Johne's disease and B.mellitensis and must have passed with negative results within 30 days prior to departure.
The animals must show no signs of anthrax on the day of shipment and must have been kept for the 20 days in an area, where no case of anthrax was officially declared during that period.
Agriculture minister and the Minister of Trade and Industry held urgent negotiations last Friday with their South African counterparts to resolve what they termed "the unilaterally imposed stringent animal health conditions by South Africa on Namibian livestock exports".
Agriculture permanent secretary Joseph Iita said earlier this week that Namibia requested South Africa to postpone the implementation of the new veterinary conditions until a solution is found.
"However, South Africa gave a commitment of finding an amicable solution in finalising the aspects of veterinary import conditions by further negotiations before the end of May 2004. In this regard, a joint technical committee of the two countries has been established," Iita said.
Chairperson of the Livestock Producers Forum Mecki Schneider said all small-scale and commercial farmers have been hard hit by the decision.
"No country in the world can adapt to these conditions in such a short period. It is a trade embargo and not a veterinary issue," he said.
Schneider said South African meat producers want to limit imports from Namibia because they think Namibian exports lower prices in South Africa. He said this does not make sense because Namibian animals only account for five percent of the South African market.
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