Market opportunities for northern cattle producers

While the construction of a border fence between Namibia and Angola will stop FMD the fastest, it will mean that that the mass translocation of Namibian cattle herds grazing in Angola must be halted, the Meat board said.

10 November 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

As a short-term measure, a commodity-based trade approach to beef exports from the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) can provide farmers with access to lucrative international markets.

Meanwhile, a long-term solution to be worked on is creating zones in the NCAs that are free of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD).

This according to the Meat Board of Namibia, which said, in this way, beef producers in the country’s FMD protection zone will also be able to gain access to profitable international markets.

“Currently, producers farming in Namibia’s FMD protection zone cannot access the same markets as producers from the recognised FMD-free zone due to the occurrence of trade sensitive diseases.”

The Meat Board said the porous border Namibia shares with Angola, and the regular cross-border movement of cattle, present the biggest challenges to obtaining FMD freedom in the protection zone.

According to the Meat Board, it has considered numerous ways to improve market opportunities for producers in the protection zone.

These include improving the area’s animal health and accessing markets regardless of the area's current animal health status.

Issues such as feasibility, practicality, cost-benefit, social impact, international recognition and livestock marketing offtake were also taken into consideration.

Cheaper option

“Following the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines for the implementation of commodity-based trade and the creation of free zones will facilitate international acceptance and recognition and enable market access.”

It said the only options are the construction of a border between Namibia and Angola, the use of low-risk areas within the NCA to create FMD-free zones, the creation of compartments that are free of FMD, as well as commodity-based trading.

A commodity-based trade approach follows methods for safe production of beef in areas not free from FMD and can thus be applied in the protection zone with the current animal health status, the Meat Board explained.

It is one of the cheaper options - at an initial cost of about N$4.8 million and an annual cost of N$30.5 million.

The approach, however, needs intensive involvement of veterinarians, as well as frequent and costly vaccinations against FMD.

Border fence

The Meat Board believes this can be a short-term solution, while areas that have a low risk of FMD should be fenced off. This is to achieve FMD-free zones in areas of the protection zone with the least disease risk adjacent to the veterinary cordon fence.

This will, however, have an initial cost of about N$616.8 million and an annual cost of N$22.9 million.

It will also entail that an application for the zones will have to be submitted to the OIE to declare the zones free of, among other things, FMD.

There will also be additional costs, such as numerous roadblocks for animal health, while fewer producers will benefit from it than when a border fence between Namibia and Angola can be erected and the whole area can finally be declared free of FMD.

While the construction of a fence will stop FMD the fastest, it will mean that that the mass translocation of Namibian cattle grazing in Angola must be halted, the Meat board said.

It added that apart from the fact that it can initially cost about N$ 615.3 million, with an annual cost of N$26.5 million, there are also practical problems to consider.

This includes livestock farmers experiencing a shortage of land, water and grazing, and socio-cultural ties across the border.

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