By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
From the 29 283 head of cattle slaughtered for local beef supply (formal market) last year, excluding December, only 714 head of cattle slaughtered were from the northern abattoirs.
Monthly, the northern abattoirs and butchers supplying the formal market only slaughtered 100 cattle once last year- their monthly slaughter is consistently below 90.
This is what the Meat Board of Namibia says in their latest monthly statistics of cattle (heads) marketed for November last year as compiled by the Meat Board of Namibia (MBN).
For November 2021, from Kunene to the Zambezi Region, the northern abattoirs and butchers only slaughtered 22 heads of cattle for the formal market.
While the southern butchers and abattoirs that supply the local market for beef slaughtered 1 315 heads of cattle in the same month.
This is despite the government, through the Ministry of Finance, dictating all those operating on the northern side of the red line to procure beef from the northern farmers/abattoirs unless there is nothing.
This is for all public entities and includes the private sector.
Moreover, Meatco analysis also revealed that the veterinary line’s northern side has more cattle than the south.
The north of the veterinary line also has many public entities such as schools, hostels, prisons, and others. Almost every small town is budding with two or more local retailers such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Spar, Checkers and Woerman Brock.
Despite the market on paper and constant calls from the northern producers for being excluded from the formal markets, the data shows no improvement in slaughter despite the directive.
The statistics raise more questions on who is not doing what- are the producers not taking up the opportunities, or the retailers and bulk consumers of beef are not complying with the directive.
Moreover, is the government monitoring the implementation of the directive, or do they forget?
The insights gathered by The Villager is that there is no control in terms of importing beef from the south; public and private entities can source their beef freely from the south.
Unlike the approach used by the Agronomic Board, where import permits are issued to importers once they verify that there is inadequate supply from the local fresh produce and grain producers.
Furthermore, the insight revealed that north of the redline, there are few abattoirs, primarily non-functional.
The most recent not to function is the Oshakati abattoirs, joining the Eenhana one, while the Zambezi one caters for export only.
Some inconsistency in terms of quality and throughput has also been observed in the dry season and the rain season- moreover, it has also been observed that there is more slaughtering happening in the informal market than in the formal market.
At the country level, cattle marketed for the year, for specific months, keep going backwards- so much inconsistency in supply, especially those channelled for slaughter (export and local consumption).
According to the Meat Board compilation, by the end of November 2021, only 209,380 head of cattle were marketed compared to 234 511 during the same period in 2020.
Out of the 209 380 cattle available to the formal market for marketing, more than half (127 189) were sold live primarily to stock the South African producers- with Angola getting some 2 653 cattle for herself.
The remaining 82 191 fed the domestic value chain to be slaughtered for beef export and supply the local formal market.
The export markets got the chunk of the local slaughtering, with 52,908 head of cattle downed to supply mostly the South African market, Norway, the EU, and China.
South Africa does not only take up the country’s live animals but also the beef. By the end of November 2021, the neighbour bought 1,9 million kilograms of Namibian beef beating Norway and the EU individually.
The 29 283 cattle slaughtered at local butchers to supply the formal market did not yield enough as the country imported 1,7 million kilograms of beef by the end of November 2021.
Again, South Africa emerged as the biggest supplier, returning the live export with 725 269 kilograms of beef by the end of November 2021.
In terms of the auction, by the end of November 2021, 156 673 head of cattle were auctioned, most of which was tollies.