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CBT Protocols Liberate the Northern Producers

By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

It has been confirmed that the 14 tonnes of beef from the FMD export abattoir and redline bound producers have arrived in the western African market of Ghana.

The country’s ministry of international relations confirmed this early this month.

The beef was supplied from around 1,6 million cattle on the northern side of the veterinary line (Northern Communal Area), which stretches from the Kunene region to the Zambezi region.

The beef was produced under the Commodity Based Trade (CBT) approach, a scientifically proven method for dealing with beef products from Foot and Mouth Disease prone areas.

This has ushered in a new wave of hope for the large head (1,6 million), which is mostly kept for weddings and kapana slaughters and for traditional dances if not for pride and partly due to high exposure to Foot Mouth Diseases.

The region has been cut off from the formal export market, and to a large extent, the local formal market and strict restriction on the northern beef movement has been in force.

The government circular v/2019 clarified the cut-off and the maintenance of the redline while offering some liberating approaches.

The northern producers have been cut off from lucrative markets because of the geographical approach to (FMD) which does not consider the differences between the Southern African Territories (SAT) FMD viruses and Eurasian type FMD viruses in terms of epidemiology, vaccine efficacy, spread, and the presence of carrier wildlife.

This approach leads to restrictions and marketing constraints on beef produced by abattoirs in the FMD Protection and Infected Zones of Namibia and resultantly has rendered these abattoirs financially non-viable. This is according to some of the literature The Villager Business Desk dug up on a 2019 government circular on the CBT approach.

The circular findings were reiterated by Meatco chief executive officer, Mwilima Mushokabanji, during the operationalisation of the CBT approach last month.

He said the prevalence of FMD in the NCA leads to livestock movement restrictions and marketing constraints for beef produced by export-certified abattoirs in Namibia’s FMD Protection and FMD Infected zones.

“Resultantly have rendered abattoir operations in the NCA to experience increasing fixed costs and negative cash flow challenges,” he said.

According to the assessment, abattoirs in the two zones (Northern Communal Areas (NCA)) of Namibia are slaughtering well below capacity since the market for beef in the NCA is too small to absorb all the beef of the slaughtered cattle.

In many cases, it has also been documented that most formal market participants still procure their beef from the redline’s southern side, prompting the government to issue a directive to stop the practice. However, the directive has teeth as there are practical measures to prevent the practice.

The 2019 circular assessment revealed that to increase market opportunities for beef produced in the two FMD zones, the CBT Standard Operating Procedures should be adopted.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) provides standards for the non-geographical approach to FMD. In other words, they provide standards for trade in beef from areas not free from FMD.



The only export-certified abattoir on the northern side of the redline is the Katima Mulilo Abattoir, situated in the FMD Infected Zone. This area is endemic to FMD due to the presence of free-roaming Buffaloes known as reservoirs of the FMD virus.

Regarding international trade in livestock, meat and meat products, there are diseases of economic importance, namely Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Lung sickness (CBPP).

In line with the World Organisation for Animals Health (OIE), the Department for Veterinary Service (DVS) is the competent authority on animal health in Namibia, they conducted a study in 2014 in the Zambezi Region that led to the adoption of the value chain approach by the OIE.

This allowed for the development of a procedure commonly known as the CBT Protocol that allows for the safe trade of meat and meat products produced from the FMD Infected and FMD Protection zones into markets in the FMD Free zones and countries accepting importation of such certified products.

The CBT protocols require around nine steps to be followed to the letter for the beef certified by DVS and marketed around the world.

These steps involve vaccinations, quarantines, disinfection materials, human capital at DVS, and cold storage.

In detail, the steps that will lead to certification will require adequate and well-maintained quarantine infrastructures and timely delivery of medication/vaccination.

Moreover, given the services required from the DVS, the department will need to be well capitalised in resources and human capital as there will be constant verification and testing that only the department can do.

The carcasses are also required to be stored at a certain cold temperature and maintain a certain PH for them to qualify. This requires storage facilities and reliable electricity on the northern side of the red line.

So far, the government has upgraded abattoirs at Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Eenhana, Oshakati and Outapi and constructed the Meat Processing Facility in Ongwediva to provide marketing opportunities to the livestock producers in the NCA.

Furthermore, Cabinet directed the ministry of agriculture in collaboration with the Meat Board of Namibia to ensure that Meatco, as per its public policy mandate, operates the Rundu and Katima Mulilo abattoirs and to further render technical assistance in the operation of the Oshakati Eloolo Abattoir.

So far, Meatco, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambezi Meat Cooperation (ZamCo), has been operating the Katima Mulilo Abattoir since 9 June 2021. The upgrading of the Rundu Abattoir is nearing completion.

In 2020, a Meatco NCA subsidiary was established to drive the implementation of the NCA strategy.

The strategy entails the mentorship of farmers to improve their animal husbandry practices to produce quality livestock in line with market requirements and export-certified abattoirs’ compliance with animal welfare and food safety standards.

It also includes access for livestock, meat and meat products originating in the NCA to viable markets in Namibia, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


Julia Heita

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