One door opens as another closes for dairy producers
Retailers and distributors of Ultra-high temperature milk have come out in support of struggling local dairy producers as a legislation on the control of import and export of dairy and dairy products that had to be in place by the end of 2018 is nowhere in sight.
The Namibia Agricultural Union confirmed that a series of industry meetings recently took place with talks on how to save the dairy industry in Namibia.
Distributors committed themselves to purchasing locally produced UHT milk so that a larger share of this locally produced product can be utilized, the NAU further confirmed.
“Consumers are also urged to support locally produced dairy products so that Namibian milk production can continue. It must be emphasized that Namibian produced milk meet high quality standards and are hormone free,” said the union in its latest report.
Early this year Namibia’s local dairy industry saw conditions worsen due to proposed price reductions of raw milk which according to the NAU potentially meant the end of business for some of the producers.
NAU reported that on 23 February 2018 a special meeting was held between the management of the Dairy Producers Association and representatives of the processor regarding a raw milk price reduction for Namibian producers of 10 cents per litre and a further possible 10 cents reduction by the end of April 2018.
This was the second price reduction in the last seven months prior to March 2018 and the NAU reported then that in additions to the price reduction, payments of producers were being deferred on a monthly basis.
Producers were also warned not to increase any milk production; as excess milk would most probably not be taken up in the market.
Meanwhile, the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) and Namibia Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) project together with the agriculture ministry organised the 22nd Rangeland Forum in Otjiwarongo on the 28th and 29th November 2018.
The Namibia Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) of the ministry recognise large-scale degradation of the rangeland resource leading to significant losses to Namibia’s GDP as well as a decline in livestock profitability and productivity.
The NRMPS also provide an overall framework including key principles of rangeland management that if implemented can make the livestock industry profitable once more.
Livestock production experts from Southern Africa were invited to share their experiences of how they have applied the principles included in the NRMPS to increase livestock profitability.
These experiences were supplemented by Namibia’s own experts of applying sound rangeland management practices.
“The presentations showed that there are a number of ways that we can improve sustainable stocking rates in Namibia – but this will require a change in mind-sets and the adoption of a supportive and enabling environment from various players in the industry to turn this around,” said the NAU.
The three Unions with inputs from their respective constituents also presented what needed to be changed to enable greater uptake of best practices as well as how this change to better practices should be supported over time.
NAU said it was clear that the communal farming sector required the establishment of mechanisms to enable grazing plans to be enforced in the communal setting.
The emerging commercial farming sector recognized the need for a review of this sector to create and enable success.
The commercial farming sector indicated the need for subsidized interest rates to address key bottlenecks on farms including addressing bush thinning.
All three unions expressed the need for policy security to enable investment and growth of the sector.
The best practices, removal of stumbling blocks and the creation of incentives as well as how best to support the sector will be followed up next year with the relevant authorities and stakeholders.