The country’s inability to produce enough animal feed and nutritional supplements has led livestock producers to run to slaughterhouses during droughts to sell their livestock before they die.
Then after the rains, they restock, a process that takes time and affects the supply and affordability of beef in the country.
In the three-year drought that the country has been through, livestock producers have removed more than one million head of livestock according to the latest Meat Council of Namibia (MBN) news release.
“After the ongoing drought, more than 1,362,364 million livestock were marketed during 2017-2019, a slowdown of more than half was recorded in 2020,” the bulletin revealed.
“This led to the producers entering the herd-building season after the marketing activity caused by the drought over the past three years,” the Meet Board added.
The council explained that with the limited slaughter, prices are expected to rise as Namibia will find it difficult to meet orders, “although the Norwegian quota is expected to take priority”.
The newsletter also highlighted that producer prices for 2021 are in all cases higher than prices for 2020.
Due to poor supplies from local producers, especially those south of the Red Line, Botswana was identified as a source due to its similar environmental conditions and FMD-free area.
This is after the Botswana government temporarily lifted a temporary moratorium on live exports, and Namibian slaughterhouses may benefit from this.
However, only male animals can be imported from the FMD zone in Botswana, subject to the strict requirements set by the Namibian Directorate of Veterinary Services.
From the initial application of 1,904 cattle, 1,389 were imported for slaughter at local slaughterhouses.
Total livestock marketing decreased by 39.84% during the first quarter of 2021, as 41,842 head of cattle were marketed compared to 69,550 head during the same quarter of 2020.
Of the total livestock marketed, 61% were live exports, with producers choosing lower exports to South Africa.
While 22% of export slaughterhouses captured export slaughterhouses, B&C-class slaughterhouses captured 17% of the market share, the Meat Council revealed.
Up to 98% of all live livestock exports were sent to South Africa (25,129 animals out of 25,650) with Angola acquiring 2% (521 animals) of live exports.
“Of these live cattle exports, 99% were pies (the general classification of pies includes calves and calves) and these were for feedlots in South Africa, with the remaining 1% of live exports being just 1%,” says the Meat Council.
This is despite the fact that pancake prices in Namibia increased by 23,13% during the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, while breakfast prices in South Africa increased by 22.12%.
On average, Namibian weaning was trading at N$41.66 per kilogram during the first quarter of 2021.
That’s N$3.76 per kilogram higher than a South African breakfast, which may dampen demand for Namibian weaning from the neighboring country, although live export numbers tell a different story.
As the South swarms for livestock, on the northern side of the Red Line there are about 1.7 million head of cattle, according to Mitco’s annual report, with no market except for their use during burials, weddings and sales at cabana stalls.
“It was concluded that in the short term, all efforts should be focused on the commodity-based trade process,” the Met Board said.
This is due to various reasons, chief among which are the already available infrastructure and the costs of bringing beef exports to improved yield markets in the short term, says the newsletter.
In the longer term, consideration could be given to establishing a FMD-free and CBPP-free zone within the existing FMD protection zone (north of the red line).
The council revealed that “other options such as erecting a border fence on the Namibia-Angola border, as well as creating a cabin free of FMD and CBPP, are less practical and very expensive.
They added that the wall would remain regardless.
“Regardless of the option pursued, maintaining the integrity of the cordon, maintenance of quarantine farms and camps north of the Red Line, and an effective FMD vaccination programme,” the newsletter reads.
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