New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Farmers Look Inward Following SA Intransigence

The Namibian livestock industry has tasked financial experts with conducting a study on the viability of Namibia becoming less dependent on South Africa for weaner exports. The plan is to utilise existing local abattoirs and slaughterhouses to their full capacity.

This decision was taken after South Africa, to which most local farmers exported their produce, imposed stringent export regulations.

Confirming the decision the general manager of the Meat Board, Paul Strydom, said the team of financial experts were given until 10 July to report back on the consequences and financial implications of the proposal.

"Namibia has become way too dependent on the South African export market but the flip side is that the export industry adds value to Namibian weaners, creates employment as well as investment opportunities," he said.

"But the same can be said for the new plan whereby we intend to use abattoirs to their full capacity and even expand on them with the kind of volumes we can expect to handle.

"Namibia already has several abattoirs like Meatco's abattoirs in Windhoek, Okahandja and Oshakati; Witvlei Meat's abattoir in Witvlei and Brukarros Meat Producers' abattoir in Keetmanshoop. All are of international standard for cattle and sheep slaughtering and can support our new strategy from being an export country to one which slaughters locally," Strydom said.

He added: "The proposed plan might not be the best immediate plan but at least the industry is moving forward after grinding to a halt on 1 May."

Meatco last week announced it would increase the standing capacity at its Okapuka feedlot to 8 000 cattle in the 2014/15 financial year to slaughter some 28 000 cattle per annum.

The chief financial officer of Meatco, Nico Weck, said Meatco saw the South African restrictions as a national crisis after the Meat Board met with President Hifikepunye Pohamba and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, to brief them about the impasse. Weck said even if the discussions brought relief to Namibian exporters of especially weaners, the local livestock industry would never be the same again.

"The biggest concern with regard to the export requirements and their impact is the almost 180 000 weaners that are exported to South Africa annually. With such a huge amount of extra weaners in the country, Namibia's local market will be saturated," Weck commented.

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