WINDHOEK: The agricultural sector contributes about 6 percent to the Gross Domestic Product, and the livestock sector contributes about 72 percent to the total agricultural output as compared to crops which contributes 15 percent and the remaining 13 percent pertains to forestry. This was said by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry Joseph Iita during the official opening of the 49th Annual Livestock Producers Congress taking place in Windhoek.
The theme ‘ Animal health status for economic growth-the Namibian situation’ is appropriate as many farmers both commercial and communal depend on livestock. The livestock census undertaken 2011 revealed that there are 2.8 million cattle, 2.2 million sheep, 1.7 million goats and almost 44-thousand pigs in the country.
Iita highlighted a few programs and projects the Government through the Agricultural Ministry embarked upon and what government intends to do in future. One such program was the implementation of the Livestock Production and Animal Health Control Program to increase livestock production and marketing as well as to improve the animal health status in communal areas, while improving the production level of the commercial farmer’s herds.
The Agriculture department has managed to respond to animal health challenges successfully to the extend that Namibia to date is able to export to external markets with sophisticated sanitary requirements.
The Ministry has reached an advanced stage for the export of meat and meat products to the United Sates of America. While Namibia was able to conclude an agreement with the People’s Republic Of China who are interested in Namibian meat and meat products.
With regard to the enhancement of marketing of livestock and livestock products from the Northern Communal Areas (NCA’s) this is also addressed and could see the movement of meat and meat products south of the veterinary cordon fence before end 2014.
Iita also informed the Congress the Govrenment will continue to develop livestock beef processing and cold storage infrastructure and expand markets in the Northern Communal Areas. The processing plants in the Kavango, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana regions will significantly contribute to foreign exchange earnings, skills development job creation and development of agribusiness.
The Ministry continued to provide training to farmers through short courses focussing on livestock marketing, management, selection as well as supplementary feeding. Government also provides breeding stock to communal farmers at subsidized prices in order to ensure increased livestock productivity and improved quality of the breeding stock. The Livestock Producers Congress will come to an end tomorrow.