NCA livestock sector transformation

The agriculture ministry has launched its strategy to integrate the eight northern regions' agricultural production.

30 August 2019 | Agriculture

The agriculture ministry will soon announce animal health measures aimed at ensuring that the management of foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreaks have the least impact on marketing of livestock and livestock products in the eight northern regions of Namibia.

This was said by agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb at the launch of the Northern Communal Area Livestock Sector Transformation Strategy.

The estimated budget for the strategy is more than N$351 million and it aims to amongst others reduce FMD outbreaks from five outbreaks every five years to one. It also aims to establish six disease-free zones in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs). There are currently none.

!Naruseb said the ministry with the support of the Meat Board has reviewed the management of FMD outbreaks in the infected zone, the Zambezi Region, parts of the Kavango East Region, the protection zone, and the rest of the northern regions.

He said the ministry will also be announcing new commodity-based trade measures to allow safe movement of meat from the northern regions to areas south of the veterinary cordon fence such as in Windhoek.

!Naruseb expressed concern over the fact that the proportion of agriculture's contribution to the national economy has fallen below 4% of the GDP and said that the livestock economy in the eight northern regions has huge potential to help the country achieve its economic objectives.

The eight northern regions are the Zambezi Region, Kavango East, Kavango West, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati and Kunene regions. He pointed out that they currently contribute the least to the national economy.

“There is a need to transform the livestock sector in the northern regions to a market-oriented livestock sector, which meets the socioeconomic needs of the value-chain actors, from farmers to consumers, while increasing its contribution to the national economy,” said !Naruseb.

According to him the challenges faced by the livestock sector in the eight northern regions of Namibia are numerous, but not insurmountable.

He referred to the Study on Marketing Systems of Livestock and Livestock Products that elaborated on the challenges that the northern regions are faced with and said that this study also made key recommendations on how these can be addressed.

“The sector has been bedevilled by low productivity due to deteriorating rangeland and an unfavourable animal health status characterised by increased frequency of occurrence of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the Zambezi Region, and the increased risk of FMD outbreaks in the rest of the northern regions,” said !Naruseb. He said this status is an impediment to gaining access to high value markets.

“However, risk must be managed to ensure meat from the northern regions has at the very least, access to the local and national domestic markets, and if there is surplus, export to markets without onerous sanitary requirements.” !Naruseb said as government they are seeking to change the situation and are committed to the transformation of the northern regions' livestock sector by developing the formal market for livestock in the form of new abattoirs at Rundu and Outapi, and meat processing facilities at Rundu and Ongwediva.

“We have ongoing projects to restore the abattoirs in Oshakati and Katima Mulilo to export status. We are hopeful that the new operators will sustain operations of formal livestock marketing. This should encourage higher off-take of quality animals as demanded by the markets.”

He also referred to the directive that was issued through the finance ministry to ensure the food service industry participating in government tenders procure their food requirements from locally produced grain, vegetables, meat and others.

“My ministry and partners are committed to support the implementation of this process to ensure that meat originating from the northern regions has access to the local domestic market. We will leave no stone unturned to make sure this directive is fully implemented.” Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) president Jason Emvula said the absence of a functional lucrative market for the NCA has left the majority of communal farmers in poverty. The status quo is extremely worrisome. He said a four-month comprehensive investigation was conducted into the status quo of the marketing systems in the communal areas north of the veterinary cordon fence. The investigation analysed the value chain of livestock and livestock products. “There is a need to organise a Namibian team to leave the country to engage with fellow Africans and search for marketing opportunities for livestock and livestock products from the NCA,” said Emvula.

He stressed that to transform the NCA there is need to invest in infrastructure, so that they are able to own and operate the entire value chain from fodder production through processing. He further called on the extension of the FMD free zone northward into what is now called the buffer zone, so that marketing opportunities for NCA livestock and livestock products can be broadened and the costs associated with commodity-based trading can be taken away.

“FMD outbreak management must be in such a way that there is minimal disruption to the marketing of livestock and livestock products and related commercial activities.

It is not acceptable that livestock movement is restricted to extended periods during outbreaks and marketing is closed for six months.”



ELLANIE SMIT

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