20 February 2018

Namibia: Mutorwa Wants Red Line Moved

Although he is leaving to a new ministry, former agriculture minister John Mutorwa has urged staff members of the ministry to continue negotiations with Angola to move the red line.

Mutorwa, who is now works minister, said during a send-off arranged for him by the agriculture ministry last week the red line has excluded many northern communal farmers from the lucrative beef markets that farmers from the central and southern parts of Namibia continue to enjoy.

"We cannot afford not to achieve this for the benefit for our farmers," he stressed.

The red line is a pest exclusion fence separating northern Namibia from the central and southern parts of the country. It encases several northern areas including Oshana, Kavango East, Omusati, Zambezi, Kunene and Oshikoto regions.

The government has previously proposed shifting the red line to the Angolan border as this would integrate northern farmers into the wider livestock market.

More than half of the country's 2,8 million cattle are in the northern communal areas and the meat from these animals is not exported to the European Union because the NCAs are considered high-risk and prone to animal diseases, especially lung sickness and foot-and-mouth disease.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, the Namibia National Farmers Union treasurer, Amon Mutjiuee Kapi who also farms in the NCA expressed concern that they are excluded from participating even in the local market.

"We don't have a market for our products at the moment," he said, adding that the only solution will be shifting the red line.

Kapi said moving the red line will help create jobs as, among others, more abattoirs would be built.

According to the latest NAU newsletter, Mutorwa also had a farewell with farmers last Wednesday where he announced that the requirement within the trade agreement with China must be an absence of the lumpy skin disease for one year before beef exports to China can take place, has been removed.

The new agriculture minister, Alpheus !Naruseb, was introduced the following day and he said he did not intend to "re-invent the wheel".

The departments in the ministry that operated well, shall not be changed but will be supported more to do even better. An attitude of "business as usual" in departments that did not function optimally, will, however, not be tolerated, he said.

He insisted on an open door policy not only with regards to his own office, but also to the offices of the deputy minister, the PS and managers.



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