Livestock sector is worth N$4.6bn
While Namibia is buckling under drought, the Meat Board has shed light on the critical importance of the livestock sector to the country.
14 March 2019 | Agriculture
Stated differently, of every N$23 produced by Namibia in goods and services every year, N$1 originates from livestock farming.
This is according to the latest statistics released by the Meat Board.
The total value of meat and livestock exports has consistently increased over the past few years, most notably by 77.3% between 2017 and 2018, and totalled N$4.6 billion in 2018. Beef and lamb dominate the industry and collectively account for 86% of all meat production.
According to the Meat Board 84% of Namibia's beef production, 77% of its mutton and lamb, and 97% of its goat meat are exported every year, the bulk of it to South Africa. No pork is exported.
“This makes Namibia a net exporter of beef, sheep and goats,” the Meat Board says.
More specifically, Namibia produced a net trade surplus of 6 700 tonnes of beef and 2 900 tonnes of mutton in 2018.
In addition, Namibia exported more than 305 000 live cattle, more than 450 000 live sheep and more than 145 000 live goats in 2018.
Besides South Africa, Hong Kong, Botswana, Norway and the UK are important export destinations.
“The livestock exports of last year far exceeded that of 2016 and 2017 for each of the months from January to December,” the Meat Board says.
For instance, the total value of meat exports in January 2016 was N$0.25 billion, in 2017 it was N$0.21 billion and last year it increased to N$0.40 billion. The December figures were N$0.09 billion in 2016, N$0.21 billion in 2017 and N$0.50 billion in 2018. In 2017, Namibia was the world's 26th largest exporter of beef, up from 38th position in 2016.
“Given the significant increase in exports in recent years, Namibia is expected to maintain, and perhaps even improve on, this position for the foreseeable future,” the Meat Board says.
According to the latest data Namibia maintains more than seven million head of livestock: 2.8 million cattle, two million sheep, 1.9 million goats and 300 000 pigs.
The Meat Board says it is evaluating the competitiveness of Namibian abattoirs compared to live exports of livestock. “During the past years, the industry experienced a decrease in local slaughter numbers, while exports of livestock to South Africa gained momentum,” it says.
This was mainly because of local abattoirs becoming less productive due to reduced slaughter numbers and low meat prices.
“Namibia, as a predominantly livestock- and meat-exporting country, must maintain a healthy slaughter industry operating in an optimum environment,” the Meat Board says.
According to the Meat Board the Namibian livestock export market has been developed over many years and must be preserved at all costs.
It says all components of the value chain, including potential export destinations such as the Middle East, will be incorporated in its competitiveness report, which is expected to be completed by April 2019.
Meanwhile, the recent management meeting of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) was dominated by discussions about the critical situation many livestock producers find themselves in due to the ongoing drought.
The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) says according to its regional representatives there are few parts in the country that have received good rain and whose pasture conditions are sufficient to carry livestock through the winter.
“In all regions most producers are busy with emergency marketing. Auctions are under pressure and feedlots and slaughter allocations are fully booked,” says the union.
The LPO management invited Meatco representatives to attend the meeting so that they could ascertain how Meatco could assist farmers.
Meatco promised to slaughter at maximum capacity from this month onwards.
“The abattoir is fully booked and there is a waiting list. They are considering slaughtering on the remaining Saturdays and also Sundays to accommodate the additional animals,” says the NAU.
There is concern about the deteriorating condition of livestock.
Meatco has requested farmers to have all documentation in order so that animals can be slaughtered as quickly as possible without delays.
The company has also committed itself to keeping the producer price as stable as possible.