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Non-functional abbatoirs, quarantine camps affecting livestock producers in Kunene

Non-functional abbatoirs, quarantine camps affecting livestock producers in Kunene

Staff Reporter

LIVESTOCK quarantine facilities intended to assist farmers manage and market their livestock in the Kunene region are either non-functional or have been totally vandalized.

About three livestock quarantine camps have fallen victim to vandals, further jeopardizing opportunities for farmers to sell their animals in formal markets. The only facility still in good condition is the Ehomba Community quarantine camp, located over 100 kilometres north of Opuwo. Despite the latter’s good condition with a holding capacity of over 100 cattle, it is not being used for its primary purpose, since MEATCO stopped operations in the area some years ago. It is instead leased to a local businessman who runs an abattoir.

Quarantine facilities in Kunene, built by government with assistance from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) were inaugurated in the year 2000 to help farmers in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) market their livestock and increase agricultural productivity.

The facilities which were operated by Meatco, stopped their activities in 2014 following the loss of the South African market due to outbreak of animal diseases.

In addition to the veterinary cordon fence (VCF), Non-operational abattoirs, lack of feedlots, limited livestock improvement and low prices have been identified as some of the impediments hampering livestock producers in the NCAs. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has since started implementing an infrastructure development programme by constructing and upgrading abbatoirs and meat processing plants in regions places such as Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Oshakati, Eenhana and Outapi. According to the Ministry, in the Kunene region, a contractor will soon be appointed to upgrade the Opuwo slaughterhouse and Omutambo Maowe quarantine farm that serves livestock farmers in the Kunene, Omusati and oshana regions. 

Namibia is said to have over 2.5 million cattle, with 1.2 million found in the NCAs while the southern part of the veterinary cordon fence accounts for 1.3 million cattle. The export of NCA cattle to international markets is however restricted by the VCF, colloquially referred to as the red line. The VCF is an age-old policy dating back to the German colonial period that separates northern Namibia from central and southern parts of the country with the intention to control infectious disease among livestock. The rationale behind the policy has been that it has sustained the Namibian meat industry, particularly the export of such products to the EU and other international markets. However, critics have criticized the arrangement as limiting communal farmers access to lucrative domestic, regional and international markets.

Members of Parliament from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration are visiting Northern Communal Areas to conduct oversight following a petition referred to the committee calling for the urgent revival of the market for livestock in the area. They include Natangwe Ithete (chairperson) with fellow MPs, Maria Elago, Gotthard Kasuto, Yvette Araes, Johanna Kandjimi, and Jennifer van den Heever.

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