NAMIBIA – Meat shortage is biting hard in Namibia months after the country suspended imports from neighboring South Africa and Botswana after they reported an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Desmond Cloete, the head of marketing at the Meat Board of Namibia confirmed that the country is currently facing a fresh pork meat shortage as the local production can only support about 50% of the domestic consumption.

The ban on South African imports, covering all fresh and raw meat, was announced last year after it was reported that the neighboring country is failing to control the outbreak.

Pork is scarce on the shelves of grocery stores, butcheries and restaurants alike, creating a gap in the market that needs to be filled, as communicated by Desmond Cloete.

Shortly after the ban on South African imports, the country announced the suspension of livestock imports and other related meat products from Botswana.

This is after the country, which neighbors Namibia to the east, also commenced investigations into a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

The viral disease causes lesions and lameness in infected cattle, sheep and other cloven animals and suspected cases were detected in Botswana’s North Eastern district.

“Imports of all FMD susceptible animals, their raw products and other potentially infectious materials such as straw, forage, lucerne and their livestock feed from Botswana has been suspended until further notice,” Namibia’s agriculture minister said.

The ministry of agriculture however permitted the in-transit movement of raw products and livestock feed intended for Namibia that moves through Botswana provided the vehicles of transportation are sealed.

Some importers have started importing meat from abroad due to the resultant meat shortage but this alternative is expensive and time-consuming.

In 2021, Namibia imported about 6,173 thousand tonnes of pork and the market is estimated to be growing at an average annual rate of 21.75%, according to data from Knoema, a global data platform.

The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) advised that the country should invest more in the pork sector to realise its full potential and export domestically produced meat to other countries.

The most significant challenge faced by the pig industry is the outbreak of swine flu among African countries as well as other diseases.

The sector is also riddled with obstacles like unorganized markets, inadequate slaughter facilities, price and supply of feeds, and inappropriate management techniques.

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