Being in Ghana for a Livestock Policy and Advocacy Training recently, I was surprised that the minute the other African delegates hear that I was from Namibia; they were like “Whaaoo! You are exporting your beef to lucrative markets!” Off course, I would pump out my chest with pride and say something like “Yes, indeed Namibia is a livestock country”. Period!
Most of other African countries’ focus is geared more on crop production for poverty reduction rather than on livestock.
But during the course of the training, the other delegates realised from our presentations that Namibia does not a have a Livestock Policy.
“But how possible is it that your country is doing well in the livestock sector but you don’t have a Livestock Policy?”
My explanation was: There is a Namibian Agricultural Policy (which is currently under review), and livestock issues are covered (although in a few sections, I must say). We further strive to comply to our trading partners regulations/requirements.
In addition, we also have organised agricultural sector structures such as farmers unions, auctioneers and transporters organisations as well as abattoir association that champion the livestock industry.
Still, as much as the house appreciated these entities, they were not convinced that this was enough.
Policy often influence allocation of resources; contribute towards the development and ultimate prosperity of a sector. So, after I have brought out our “Policy for the Eradication of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA)” document, it was a clear example that Namibia is striving to devise ways and means to eradicating these diseases (mainly foot and mouth disease and lung sickness).
This Policy is mainly geared towards improving market access for livestock and livestock products from the Northern Communal Areas (NCA).
How long have we been preaching as a country for the removal of the “Red Line”? It was since before Independence.
But now, we should look at how far we have come towards reaching this goal, just by having a policy for this purpose.
This Policy was taken as a project, was endorsed by Cabinet and has a coordinator, a steering committee and a specified budget.
Finally, the future looks brighter for our NCA people.
Apart from having a Livestock Policy, in order to champion the livestock sector and investments, it was hammered in the training the importance of having a livestock policy hub.
In other words, a centre which will be the platform to spearhead this industry is crucial for each country.
Being a member of the African Union (AU) , Namibia under the VET GOV (Veterinary Governance) programme, was tasked to establish a livestock policy hub or a platform where all stakeholders involved or who has an influence on the livestock industry, can come together to champion this industry.
The Namibian livestock and meat industry has currently commendable platforms of livestock related issues, such as the Livestock Marketing committee, Fan Meat committee, and Ear Tag committee, Animal Health Consultative Forum, among others.
These platforms are creditable in our country as they bring veterinarians, livestock production specialist, rangeland managers, farmers and their respective unions as well as the industries stakeholders together on a regular basis.
Thus, if these platforms can be aligned with a functional livestock policy hub, then our livestock farming will grow further and contribute more significantly to the improvement of our people’s livelihood.
As veterinarians, livestock producers and the industry stakeholders, we ought to be a beacon in livestock policy formulations, because we are livestock managers in the country and anything dealing with livestock should be our priority areas.