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Veterinary Cordon Fence moves north

The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon John Mutorwa and the Chairperson of the Meat Board, Patricia Gurubes at the Agricultural Boards building this week in launching the Common Vision of the Livestock & Meat Industry of Namibia. (Photograph by Freeman Ngulu)

A Cabinet decision is eagerly awaited that will ultimately lead to the removal of the Veterinary Cordone Fence separating the Northern Communal Areas from the commercial farming areas south of the so-called Red Line.
According to the Meat Board Chairperson, Patricia Gurubes, the removal of the Veterinary Cordon Fence will add more than N$600 million per annum to producer incomes.
Gurubes made this statement this week at the launch of the Common Vision of the Livestock & Meat Industry plan at the Agronomic Boards building in Windhoek by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon John Mutorwa.

“The only way to achieve this goal is to improve the animal disease status north of the Cordon Fence and one of the most lucrative ways to improve the animal disease status is to start with the construction of a fence on the Namibia – Angola border” she said.
The Common Vision will address five areas important to the livestock and meat industry such as Animal Health and Food Safety, Production, Value Addition, Marketing and Product Trade, and Industry Consolidation.
In launching the Common Vision, Mutorwa made it clear that the current veterinary fence will not be removed due to earlier findings from his ministry that such a move will put the industry and subsequently the economy at great risk.
Mutorwa said that outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease late last year and in 2009 in some parts of the north particularly Kunene, Omusati, Ohangwena and Kavango West, require to have quarantine measures in place.
“I congratulate the Meat Board in facilitating the process to solve industry threats and trends through dialogue between the parties rather than to task authorities to make industry decisions,” the minister observed. Permanent Secretary Josep Iita also mentioned that the government together with the support of the Millennium Challenge Account, is preparing the area, with the exception of the Zambezi Region to obtain an internationally recognised animal health status. “The study indicated that export restrictions in the form presently being applied are counterproductive and that an incentive-based intervention is needed,” Iita added. Mutorwa stressed the importance on the Common Vision, saying that growing the various sub-sectors within the industry and creating an environment conducive to its expansion as a whole, [determine] the well-being of every individual farmer.
He admitted that with different levels of development, different degrees of sophistication and variable adoption of and integration into the value chain, it will make for conflicting interests between parties involved. However, Mutorwa found no reason why the same consultative approach in drafting the Common Vision can not be used to solve future challenges.
The Common Vision will see the finalisation of bone-in lamb exports to the European Union and the enhancing of quality standards with major trading partners, equal to standards set by major retailers in high value markets such as the United States and Hong Kong, where Namibia has already started talks for importing local beef. Livestock and meat industry forums will meet biannually to developestrategies around set targets. Namibia produces a combined total of 85,000 tons of beef, lamb, and goat meat annually.Approximately 80 % of this production is exported to neighboring southern African countries and to the European Union. Even though Namibia’s exports of fresh/chilled and frozen beef are not even 0.5% of world exports, it ranks 29th and 35th of the top beef exporting countries for fresh and frozen beef. Namibia supplies 1.4% of global sheep and goat exports. The Common Vision will be implemented by the Meat Board through executive and industry committees.

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