A cry of relief – from the Zambezi River in the north to the Orange River in the south – rang out from Namibian livestock producers yesterday morning when it became known that South African authorities have relaxed the stringent livestock import rules which have brought many Namibian farmers to their knees since their implementation on July 1.
Confirming the relaxed rules, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Sophy Kasheeta, told New Era Weekend yesterday that the less stringent regulations would immediately become effective for Namibian cattle, sheep and goats for export to South Africa.
She noted with joy that the South African department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries had commenced with implementation of the long-awaited, less stringent import conditions for all cattle, sheep and goats from Namibia intended for direct slaughter and feedlot purposes.
“At the moment, four facilities in South Africa have been approved by the ministry to receive such animals, and more facilities are expected to be added in the near future,” she commented.
Kasheeta said she expected that this development would bring relief to the farming community and exporters as the new permit reduces the need for compulsory pre-export Brucella and double TB testing.
She cautioned exporters not to divert or exchange animals in certified consignments in order not to jeopardise the sensitive trade facility arrangement, adding that they should study the new permit rules thoroughly. “Your market is in your hands,” she noted.
Chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO), Mecki Schneider, who was instrumental in the negotiations the Meat Board of Namibia had with their SA counterparts, was a relieved man when contacted for comment by New Era Weekend yesterday.
“Very, very good news for every Namibian producer who helps to ship off some 180 000 weaners to South Africa annually. The exciting news comes at a time when weaner prices have dropped to an all-time low of below N$10 p/kg. Such prices make farming unrealistic and unsustainable. Many, many farmers are on their knees as the border has practically been closed for them since 2014, when SA overnight implemented the new regulations. Namibian producers have been struggling in a time of severe drought and closed borders but now they have something to look forward to again. What we need now is good rains and we will have a common vision for the future. It’s a pity that the process took so long and soaked up so much money and so many resources, but we are delighted and thrilled. There is after all light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to a team effort of note,” he commented.