2019 is expected to be yet another difficult year for the Namibian agricultural sector.
This is due to two major facets, namely, the recent South African (SA) border closure necessitated by the foot-and-mouth-disease (FMD) outbreak in that country and the looming drought.
The drought will result in most farmers only determining their marketing trend for 2019 towards the end of February if the much-anticipated rains do not occur earlier or around that time. On the other hand, slaughter prices are expected to remain sideways (the same) or slightly increase as a result of an awaited battle for local slaughter cattle due to the border closure as mentioned above. This could also lead to potential shortage of beef on the shelves of local retailers.
Producer prices in neighbouring South Africa are dropping, particularly those of sheep, and consequently affecting Namibia’s domestic sheep industry. In addition to this, an abundance of small weaners below 200kg is expected due to early weaning and the current herd composition of mainly weaner producers. Live prices have already dropped from about N$36 per kilogram last year to N$26 per kilogram currently, hampering the current weaner marketing opportunities. As a consequence, migrating from the weaner production system to ox production system is not a feasible option for cash-stripped farmers during a drought year because of the time it takes to rear slaughter-ready animals.
“In a bid to mitigate the current difficulties in the industry, Meatco has lowered its feedlot intake weight to 220kg. Meatco will also continue to pay fair prices to producers while in the process of stocking-up the Okapuka Feedlot,” Meatco’s Executive: Livestock Procurement, Heiner Böhme, says.
“Furthermore, and as a result of the ever declining numbers in slaughter carcasses, the Okahandja Abattoir is closed on a temporary basis. However, in the event that the drought persists, Meatco will do its utmost best to accommodate producers and slaughter available cattle. In the same vein, we expect leaner cattle with lower carcass weights coming through our facilities this year," Böhme added.
“We further caution farmers to be aware of and treat animals according to the highest Animal Welfare Standards when loading and transporting cattle to Meatco,” Böhme added.
With the persisting drought in conjunction with the closed border, it seems 2019 is going to be a challenging year for Namibian producers.