SA’s stringent rules stifle Nam livestock sector

 

Windhoek – Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), the largest commercial farmers’ grouping in the country, says that about 490 000 livestock annual exports to South Africa are at risk if the neighbouring country pushes through a raft of export restrictions.

The loss of the market would bring down Namibia’s livestock industry in the short- to medium-term, until initiatives to secure new markets in Angola and Zambia start bearing fruit, NAU chief executive, Sakkie Coetzee, has said in an interview.

NAU also warns that even though Namibia’s northern and eastern neighbours are a viable market for livestock exports, securing new markets for live animal exports is a long process. Furthermore, there are fears that Angolan and Zambian markets might not be able to absorb the numbers Namibian farmers ship to South Africa.

Namibia has not exported livestock to South African abattoirs and feedlots since May 1, after the neighbouring country imposed new health regulations, which entail individual health tests for certain diseases, quarantine of animals before exports, proof of treatment of internal and external parasites, among others.

South Africa regulations are “too stringent” and are not “necessary” as Namibia’s animal health standards are “higher than those in South Africa and are in strict adherence to European Union standards”, Coetzee said.

The EU is a key destination for Namibian beef, in addition to other agricultural products such as grapes and fish and fisheries products.

“Our infrastructure and generally the logistics is geared to export to South Africa. Yes, we are exploring Angola and Zambia as options, but it will take time before we are able to say we have trucks going to Angola or Zambia,” Coetzee said.

“There might be a market there but we are not sure yet whether those new markets will be able to absorb the same numbers we were exporting to South Africa,” Coetzee said.

Namibia exports about 150 000 weaners a year to South African feedlots, 240 000 goats to abattoirs in KwaZulu Natal province and about 100 000 sheep, Coetzee said.

South Africa’s Department of Agriculture and representatives from its livestock industry on June 10 decided that import requirements “will be streamlined to facilitate trade while safeguarding” the country’s animal health status relating to animal imports from Namibia, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The standard operating procedures were due to be finalised at the end of June. Namibia is already missing out on business this July, “which is usually our traditional weaner auction month”. “Our livestock health statuses are much higher than for those in South Africa. We have no choice but to find alternative markets,” Coetzee, who heads the 2 400-member farmers’ union, said.

The “stringent” import veterinary conditions by South Africa will likely reduce livestock exports to that country, the Bank of Namibia warned in its 2014 economic outlook.

“The recently introduced stringent conditions by South Africa on the export of livestock may slow down the volume of livestock marketed and weaken growth in the livestock sector,” the central bank said.

July 2014
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