Windhoek – Plans to develop a beef processing facility, feed lot and tourism centre at the Kavango Cattle Ranch in northern Namibia that can serve regional and international markets are gaining momentum, according to Dr Michael Humavindu, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
Humavindu says that if everything goes according to plan, construction of facilities at the ranch, which stretches over 200 000 hectares of land, could be completed within the next two years and make Namibia one of the biggest distribution hubs for beef in the Southern African region.
The cattle ranch is one of the Namibian government’s state-owned farm conglomerate run by the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) and forms part of Namibia’s Industrial Policy Implementation Strategy dubbed Growth at Home, focusing on value addition.
Growth at Home concentrates on three strategic intervention areas, which are supporting value addition, upgrading and diversification for sustained growth; securing market access at home and abroad and improving the investment climate and conditions.
The Kavango Cattle Ranch (KCR) project is aimed at creating jobs, wealth and export opportunities and create additional niche export products for new markets.
In addition, government also plans to upgrade the Ondangwa tannery in northern Namibia, where skins from the slaughtered livestock at the ranch can be processed into leather.
This, according to Humavindu, will assist value addition projects of leather, wool, pelts, silk and textiles industry through enhanced collection, processing, grading and cleaning of raw hides, skins, wool and natural silk.
Humavindu says that a finalised report on the leather sector growth strategy has also been finalised and is pending approval by Cabinet.
In the meantime, meat producers in Namibia are eagerly waiting for the chance to export beef to the lucrative and enormous China market since the Namibian Government announced last year in August that the country could now export its beef to China.
This also includes the importation of bone-in-beef from the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Free Zone, which could hopefully allow farmers to send bigger volumes of beef at lower processing cost.
Namibia is one of only ten countries in the world and the only African country that is allowed to export beef to the East Asian nation.
But according to the Ministry of Agriculture, the export of beef to China could not start soon after the announcement because the Department of Certification, Accreditation and Administration (CNCA) is conducting inspections at abattoirs which are approved by Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) for export of beef to China.
“These abattoirs received questionnaires from CNCA to provide information on veterinary public health and food safety. This information was provided by Meatco Windhoek and Okahandja before experts from CNCA came to Namibia for inspections. The purpose of this inspection is for registering the export approved establishments as exporters of meat to China,” the Ministry said in response to The Southern Times.
Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) Executive Manager, Sakkie Coetzee has welcomed the idea of exporting beef to China, saying that the more diversified the market is, the better it is for meat producers.
But he said that as farmers, they have to unfortunately depend on their export partners, such as Meatco.
“I hope the abattoirs exploit these markets,” he said.
To exporting beef from Namibia to China, livestock producers and abattoirs should comply with certain requirements, such as that the cattle should be born and reared in FMD free zone of Namibia where vaccination is not practised and bear a unique identification mark that should be traced back to the farm of origin.
The cattle should also come from a farm where no cloven-hooved animal from the region were introduced other than the FMD free zone of Namibia, and where vaccination was not practised during the past 12 months.
Further to that, the animals should be resident in the farm for at least 60 days prior to slaughter and should have been vaccinated against Anthrax, using live vaccine during the 14 days prior to slaughter.
The animals should never have been fed with any materials originating from ruminant, except milk, and never used veterinary medicine and feed additives prohibited by China or Namibia.
Namibia’s other beef markets, like the European Union (EU), Switzerland and Norway did not permit Namibia to export bone-in-beef, but now China is allowing that as long as the animals are slaughtered and the beef is processed and certified at an export approved slaughterhouse or abattoir and by the Directorate of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). (Reported by Magreth Nunuhe)