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By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

Northern cattle farmers cut off from the lucrative beef markets by the red line have four options to improve their animal health and access markets with the current health status.

The options are to construct a border fence between Namibia-Angola; fence off low-risk areas to create Foot and Mouth Diseases (FMD)-free zones; establish FMD-free compartments, or sell their beef via commodity-based trade (CBT) approach.

According to the investigation carried out by the Meat Board of Namibia (MBN), these are the options the regulator revealed in its fourth newsletter released last week.

The options investigated focused on improving animal health for the northern farmers and how to access markets for their beef with the current health status.

The board said it was done to improve marketing opportunities for producers in the protection zone.

The red line has become borne of contention, with the case at high court requesting the removal and the merit of the red line, with the Zambezi Region categorized as an infected area. At the same time, other northern regions are considered protected areas.

According to Meat Board assessment, the porous border Namibia shares with Angola, and the regular cross-border movement of cattle, present the most significant challenges from obtaining FMD and bovine lung sickness (CBPP) and freedom in the protection zone.

The option availed to the stakeholders is for the country to construct a border fence between Namibia-Angola.

The estimated total initial cost for this option is more than half a billion (N$615,3 million), and N$26,5 million should also be budgeted for annual recurrent costs.

“This option is to achieve FMD freedom in the entire area that is currently referred to as the protection zone within the shortest possible time,” the finding revealed.

The option requires the halt of mass translocation of Namibian cattle herds grazing in Angola, the immediate construction of a double stock-proof fence along the land border, and an immediate prohibition of cross-border movements across river borders and the cessation/termination of CBPP and FMD vaccination.

Meat Board has also indicated that cutting off Angola grazing will also face practical issues such as making land available to relocate cattle herds.

Access to good quality grazing, access to water, and socio-cultural ties across the border.

The second option given to the stakeholders is to fence off low-risk areas to create FMD free zones.

This option is to achieve FMD-free zones in areas of the protection zone with the minor disease risk adjacent to the veterinary cordon fence (VCF).

Meat Board assessment indicates that the initial estimated cost will be N$616,8 million, and N$22,9 million for annual recurrent cost also needs to be budgeted.

To achieve the same animal health status as the current FMD-free zone, the implementation will require constructing a fence along delineated zones and a double veterinary fence.

The inner fence must be stock proof, and the outer fence, game-proof Application of biosecurity measures to prevent the entry of FMD virus, Meat Board recommended.

At the same time, termination of CBPP and FMD vaccination in delineated free zones.

Another option given by the board to unlock the commercial potential of northern farmers is to establish FMD-free compartments.

This option relates to one or more interrelated establishments under a common biosecurity management system.

The estimated total initial cost isN$415 million, while the annual recurrent costs are projected to be N$4,9 million.

The option requires certain actions to be implemented to have an FMD-free compartment.

An integrated biosecurity management system and plan need to be in place to mitigate risks, and CBPP and FMD vaccination are not allowed in compartments.

The compartment requires supervision and control by the veterinary authority.

The compartment requires no World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognition of freedom – just bilateral recognition.

The Meat Board highlighted that the option requires a private sector-driven initiative to access markets, which trading partners do not widely accept.

If all producers should agree on the biosecurity measures, no OIE recognition is required.

Another option for the northern regions’ beef to access better markets is to trade their beef through the Commodity-based trade (CBT) approach.

According to the Meat Board explanation, this approach follows methods for the safe production of beef in areas not free from FMD and can thus be applied in the protection zone with the current animal health status.

However, it requires producers and all stakeholders involved in the value chain to meet CBT standards.

CBT standards include 90-day residence in a zone with regular vaccination against FMD and compulsory vaccination at least twice within 12 months before slaughter.

The last vaccination should be between 30 to 180 days before slaughter.

Moreover, the cattle must spend 30 days residence on a farm where FMD has not occurred within a 10 km radius.

Alternatively, 30 days quarantine at a directorate of veterinary services (DVS) quarantine facility.

The cattle should be moved from quarantine to the abattoir using cleaned and disinfected trucks and slaughter cattle at a DVS-approved abattoir designated for export.

After slaughter, the carcasses should undergo veterinary maturation and debone carcasses following removal of major lymphatic nodes.

Practical challenges with the CBT option are that biannual vaccination against FMD is costly. Quarantine is expensive, and the poor rangeland quality in quarantine facilities can make things harder.

However, the initial estimated cost is low at N$4,8 million, but it will require N$30,5 million in total annual recurrent cost.

Meat Board added that feasibility, practicality, cost-benefit, social impact, international recognition need to be assessed for the options presented.

Livestock marketing offtake is also one of the issues that need to be considered to decide on the way forward to improve marketing opportunities for producers farming in the FMD protection zone.

Their assessment has also indicated that subsistence farming setup and a number of people reliant on livestock for their livelihood presents a unique and sensitive challenge for Namibia’s livestock and meat sector.

Considering the challenges, Meat Board advocates for the short term to pursuing/implementation of commodity-based trade and for the long term to pursue the creation of FMD-free zones.

Adding that if the implementation of commodity and the creation of free zones follows the OIE guidelines, it will facilitate international acceptance and recognition and enable market access. Email:


Julia Heita

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