Livestock, an integral part of human wealth

With livestock production accounting for at least 70% of the total agricultural output in the country, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), John Mutorwa, says one should never forget the symbiotic relationship that exists between humankind and animals.
This relationship, he asserts, started millions of years ago when human beings began to domesticate animals for various good reasons, some being to provide food, produce commodities such as hides and to assist with transportation of goods.
 “Today, livestock continues to play a very important indispensable part in the provision of animal protein and income to the growing human population across the globe. Apart from being a source of protein and income, livestock serves as a sign of wealth and as collateral for credit. It also offers opportunities, not only to increased food security but as a pathway out of poverty. Therefore, livestock is an integral part of human kind and equally, one of the pre-requisites for the rise of human civilisation,” Motorwa said at the recent launch of the livestock catalogue.
Namibia’s dry climatic conditions also contribute to its ability to produce healthy, nutritious meat under natural conditions, giving it a competitive edge over many livestock producing countries, he said.
However, due to the drought situation Namibia experienced last year, the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) annual report 2013 notes the agriculture sector contracted 26.9% in real value added during 2013, compared to a growth of 8.8% recorded in 2012.
The negative performance of the sector, NSA adds, is attributed to both sub-sectors, livestock farming and crop farming, which recorded declines of 39.2% and 8.6% in real value added, respectively, during the period under review. “The performance of this sector is owed to the drought situation that prevailed during 2013. In 2012, livestock farming grew by 6.4% while crop farming grew by 12.6%.”
Namibian farmers and livestock keepers, according to Mutorwa, have managed to breed and adopt various livestock species of well-adapted breeds and ecotypes, which constitute Namibia’s heritage and should be conserved, developed and protected, not only for future markets but for mitigating the effects of climate change as well.
“Some of our existing livestock breeds and ecotypes are of economic and strategic importance but they are relatively unknown. Therefore, it was of importance that the ministry summarises information about Namibia’s livestock breeds in a catalogue,” Mutorwa highlighted.
The catalogue is a synopsis of breeds and ecotypes found in Namibia and can be used as a guideline in livestock production, to provide information on the adaptability of such breeds to the Namibian environment. It will further assist aspiring livestock farmers to make informed decisions when selecting breeds.