Use limited funding wisely to benefit agri

The CEO of the Meat Board of Namibia has discouraged the building of additional abattoirs, instead urging that the sector should not be touched for the next five years.

12 November 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

Namibia’s agricultural sector does not have the required funding to fully implement all projects and programmes for sustainability and increased probability.

This is according to the Meat Board of Namibia’s CEO, Paul Strydom, who said the industry should use what little it has available to finance appropriate interventions to benefit the entire value chain.

Production in the livestock sector has declined, leading to a decrease in agriculture’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This could be due to several factors, such as varying rainfall and the severe drought of the past few years as well as uncertain policies.

Strydom said policies such as the controversial sheep marketing scheme have brought the industry to its knees, contributing to a massive decrease in slaughter animal numbers.

In this regard, he encouraged additional research into other possible sheep meat markets.

Rebuilding trust

Strydom further stressed the importance of rebuilding farmers’ trust.

“If a farmer’s trust is restored in the system, they are likely to reinvest and use available capital to further develop the industry. Authorities need to take note of this. It is crucial if we want the industry to have a solid future.”

He said this will help in further growing the industry as well as constant interaction between relevant ministries and sector role players to discuss matters of importance.

According to Strydom, the need for a conducive environment is critical.

Such an environment, where emphasis is placed on increasing the value of sales on products, will be the quickest way to improve agriculture’s contribution to the GDP.

Don’t build more abattoirs

“It would be beneficial to the sector if it is not touched for the next five years. Do not spend money towards building additional abattoirs. Rather use the ones that are in operation more effectively, especially north of the veterinary cordon fence.”

Strydom added that feedlots require a specific business model to make them financially successful and regarded them as high-risk ventures for Namibia due to the amount of start-up capital needed and the importation of expensive feeds.

He cautioned interested parties, such as the agriculture ministry, against spending money on such initiatives.

Numbers drop drastically

Year-on-year, the export of cattle marketing has gone down by 50%. In 2019, a total of 463 000 cattle was marketed, while approximately 27 000 tonnes of beef was exported to the European Union, South Africa, China and Norway.

The export of sheep has also declined year-on-year by 56%. Slaughter capacity utilisation at operational sheep abattoirs reduced by 84%.

In 2019, a total of 740 000 sheep was marketed, of which 456 000 were exported to South Africa and 284 000 were slaughtered locally.

Goats are a commodity largely exported to informal South African markets, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, a 74% reduction in marketing numbers was recorded. Last year, 147 000 goats were marketed.

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