LAST week, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, together with its Botswana counterparts, approved conditions for sourcing cattle from Botswana.
In an endeavour to ensure throughput consistency at its European Union-certified export abattoir, following one of the worst droughts in the last seven years, Meatco finds it pertinent to service its markets both locally and internationally sustainably.
“It is important to note that while the Namibian farmers are hardest hit by the drought and the animals need to recover, Meatco cannot ignore that our clients need to receive products that are of the highest quality that we are known for,” Meatco said.
The Namibian cattle producer remains an important stakeholder and Meatco would continue to source animals from the Namibian producers, however, it will not be limited to the Namibian farmers only.
According to Dr Adrianiatus Maseke, Meatco Senior Manager Quality Assurance and Safety, Botswana and Namibia have the same standard of animal health status and access to the EU market.
“It is only natural that we go to Botswana. That way farmers in Namibia and Botswana can complement one another, as producers, to start building sustainable regional value chains.”
He added that given the challenges with drought and many other external factors Meatco faces in its various customer segments, such as local and international markets, it is looking at opportunities Botswana has created to secure raw materials.
This move was further necessitated by Namibian farmers, who are preparing for re-stocking and re-building the national herd with the anticipated projected rains, which are expected until March 2020.
Therefore, Meatco has applied for an Import Permit at the Veterinary Office of Namibia for the import of the maximum number of cattle per load.
Last year, Meatco’s management embarked on a visit to farms in Botswana to inspect compliance systems in place and scout for export opportunities. The exercise was also done in close consultation with the Botswana veterinary office, whereby veterinary health certificates and attestation were completed.
Furthermore, Meatco had the opportunity to foster continuous communication and coordination with the Botswanan veterinary office, thus ensuring that animals are always visibly free from ticks and external parasites when presented for inspection. Farmers can treat cattle well in advance due to the withdrawal period.
Each load must have its permit, whose validity indicates the issue date as well as the expiry date (usually valid for 30 days).
Upon the arrival of the cattle in Namibia, Meatco would ensure that a Namibian veterinary official is on its premises to break the seal while offloading takes place under stringent supervision.
Botswanan farmers marketing to Meatco are required to apply for health certificates, which must be attached to the list of identification for verification purposes (such as the ear tag numbers). Farmers should also make sure that the information provided on the health certificate application matches that provided by Meatco.
“It is important to once again re-emphasise that Meatco cannot compete in terms of volumes, but what sets us apart is our niche markets. Where we give emphasis to high-end consumers that want beef, which is hormone and residue-free,” Meatco said.