Agriculture in dire need of growth

One of Namibia's most important economic activities, agriculture, has declined steadily over the past 30 years.

26 June 2019 | Agriculture

Worth N$7.5 billion in 2017, Namibia's agriculture sector is in dire need of growth.

This is according to Meatco's 2018/19 annual report, which highlighted that during the past three decades, the gross domestic product (GDP) contribution of agriculture has steadily declined.

For the period 1991 to 1996 agriculture's contribution was 5.7%. Between 2007 and 2011 it declined to 4.7%, while from 2012 to 2017 it eroded to only 3.9%.

“Only a conducive policy and regulatory environment, as well as a common vision, will allow substantial growth to take place,” the report said.

“Growth starts at farm level, but will only happen when it is profitable to producers.”

The report also noted that 77% of Namibia's agriculture sector's combined value is exported, while 23% is imported.

It says that different growth strategies are required for net importers versus net exporters. Net importers need continued protection against unfair competition, while net exporters need internationally competitive export value chains to unlock potential.

Approximately 70% of Namibia's population depends on the livestock industry, which is a net exporter.

According to the latest available statistics (2017) the cattle industry is worth N$3.4 billion, of which Meatco has a nearly 50% share.

Of the 2.7 million cattle in Namibia, 35.74% are found in the areas south of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF).

Cattle sourced from there can be exported to international markets, supporting the Namibian government's developmental aims and policies, while maximising return to the producers and building credible premium brands for Namibian beef.

A total of 1.7 million (64.06%) of cattle in Namibia are found in the areas north of the VCF.

Meatco's role north of the VCF is to assist government in stabilising the red meat industry, more specifically to be actively involved, with the aim of providing assistance to these farmers and the operators of abattoirs in these areas.

The report said further that the 2.7 million cattle in Namibia's national herd represents only 0.27% of the global herd, which was estimated at 1.001 billion in 2018.

The production of meat worldwide is estimated to amount to more than 335.5 million tonnes, compared with Namibia's production of 34 020 tonnes, and Meatco's 15 620 tonnes of meat processed in 2018/19.

According to the Meatco report, beef is one of the most consumed meats in the world after pork and chicken, as it is a source of high-quality protein and essential nutrients.

“Although it is growing in popularity across the world, there are many procurement and supply chain issues facing the beef industry globally,” the report says.

It said consumers are becoming wary about the impact of beef production on the environment.

“The resource requirement for beef production is high compared to other meats.

“Cattle require 28 times more land and 11 times more water, while it (beef production) generates six times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein than pork, chicken or egg production.”



ELLANIE SMIT

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