Marketing of sheep, cattle drop by 50%

Due to the persistent drought of the past three years, the production of market-ready animals has declined, leading to a significant drop in the marketing of animals.

11 November 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

During the first nine months of this year, the marketing of sheep has dropped by 56.06%, while cattle marketing declined by nearly 50% compared to figures from last year.

The total marketing of cattle declined by 49.49% during the first three quarters of this year, in which 193 644 cattle were marketed, compared to 383 466 during the same period in 2019.

“This compares unfavourably by 41.08% to the five-year average,” according to the Meat Board, which reviewed the marketing performance of cattle and sheep from 1 January to 30 September of this year with the corresponding period of 2019.

Due to the persistent drought of the past three years, the production of market-ready animals has declined, leading to a significant drop in the marketing of cattle.

“Rain in the latter part of 2019 saw producers entering a herd-rebuilding phase which has continued into the third quarter of 2020.”

Auction prices strengthened

The Meat Board said auction prices for the first three quarters of 2020 strengthened by 43.13%, averaging N$33.25 per kilogram compared to the 2019 average of N$23.23.

However, despite higher than average auction prices, live exports for the third quarter declined by 47.43%, suggesting a severe reduction in production because of the drought, the Meat Board said.

“A reduced demand for premium beef in international markets was also noted due to the coronavirus pandemic. This has negatively affected producer prices.”

Meanwhile, a total of 28 593 cattle was declared to the Meat Board by registered B and C class abattoirs during the first three quarters of 2020, in comparison to 24 149 last year.

Slaughter industry

According to the Meat Board, the slaughter industry, which is an important player in the value-addition process, was the centre of industry discussions during the first-ever virtual national agricultural conference held during the third quarter.

“The industry, as well as government authorities, will now focus on improved drought management to stabilise production and marketing. The aim is also to attain a balance between weaner and slaughter ox production systems, among other priorities, to grow the industry.”

Sheep sector

Furthermore, the sheep sector continued a downward trajectory, performing weaker during the first three quarters of 2020 compared to 2019, the Meat Board said.

A total of 284 633 sheep were marketed during the first nine months of 2020 compared to 647 760 in 2019. This represents a 56.06% decrease in total marketing.

Declining by 82.26% during the first three quarters of 2020, export abattoirs recorded weak activity, slaughtering 25 341 sheep compared to 142 881 in the corresponding period in 2019.

Butchers also experienced decreased slaughtering, registering a decline of 33.10% from 110 429 sheep in the first three quarters of 2019 to 185 419 in the same period of 2020.

Live sheep exports were recorded at 185 419, registering a decline of 52.99% compared to the previous year.

Stock decline

According to the Meat Board, the decrease in marketing is due to a stock decline.

“The small stock marketing scheme - under short-term suspension - was implemented from 1 August 2019 and came to an end on 31 July 2020. There are currently no quantitative restrictions on the export of sheep, as the sector continues to post a weaker performance.

Meanwhile, the industry awaits the announcement of policy measures to revive the sector after government commissioned a study to review sheep marketing to turn industry output and value addition around, the Meat Board added.

“A raft of measures to turn the industry around was discussed at the agricultural conference held in September. The measures are expected to feature in industrial policy space discussions after consideration by government.”

These include restocking incentives to expand production frontier possibilities, promotion of free trade, market diversification, value-addition support as well as a set of industry-championed measures to address competitiveness.

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