Namibian livestock industry devastated by prolonged drought

Beef cattle sales in Namibia have fallen 31% so far this year compared with the same period in 2019, despite producer price increases of 2% for slaughter cattle and 39% for weaners.

As a result, weaner exports declined 49% between January and August year-on-year, Namibia’s Meat Board reported recently.

Weaner calves traditionally constituted 63% of Namibia’s cattle exports. This was ascribed to a decline in supply and an increase in the demand for cattle for slaughter.

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The board’s statistics indicated that total sheep sales for this period also decreased 56%, despite producer prices increasing 20%.

Jacque Els, CEO of the Namibian Stud Breeders’ Association, said the decline of the commercial and stud livestock production industries was a result of the relentless droughts the country had been subjected to during the past decade.

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Some stud breeders in the southern parts of the country had lost as much as 90% of their small-stock flocks to date.

The number of stud Swakara sheep in Namibia also declined from between 12 000 and 15 000 five years ago to the current 3 000, while the number of stud cattle declined by 6 000 animals, he added.

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“The fact that it rained in some parts of the country does not mean that the effects of the drought have evaporated. It takes a few seasons of good rainfall for the veld to optimally regenerate. The rain [also] does not automatically mean an improvement in cash flow, and does not absolve producers from high levels of production debt caused by the dearth,” Els said.


Photo Caption: Weaner exports from Namibia have declined about 49% between January and August this year, compared with the same period in 2019. Photo: FW Archive

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