Parliament working to amplify communal livestock potential 

Niël Terblanché

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration is embarking on an initiative with a series of oversight visits across the northern parts of the country’s communal farming areas, aimed at revitalising the livestock sector, which is a cornerstone of the local economy.

This initiative comes in response to increasing concerns over the current state and future viability of livestock marketing in these regions.

The visits, scheduled to occur from 12 to 24 May, will assess facilities and market conditions and engage with a variety of stakeholders, including government officials, farmers’ unions, and traditional leaders.

The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the sector’s challenges and opportunities, improve market access for communal farmers, and increase their visibility in the livestock market.

According to the Meatco Foundation, northern Namibia’s communal areas are essential to the country’s livestock production, with a substantial portion of the population relying on them for their livelihood.

Recent reports by the foundation indicate that these areas have vast potential for sustainable cattle production, particularly through initiatives such as the Meatco Foundation projects.

This project aims to improve cattle genetics and overall animal health, which could enhance the quality and quantity of beef available for local and regional markets.

According to Livestock Research for Rural Development, livestock plays a crucial socio-economic role in communal farming areas, not just as a source of income but also as a means of risk management against crop failures and other economic uncertainties.

Communal farmers, of whom the majority are women, often face challenges such as inadequate access to markets and modern farming technologies, which are compounded by infrastructural and educational limitations.

The potential for commercialising communal livestock is emphasised by existing initiatives that support better cattle herding, grassland management, and market access through international partnerships between Meatco and European marketing institutions.

These efforts are aimed at ensuring sustainable livelihoods through improved livestock sales.

The oversight committee will use the insights it has gathered to draft actionable recommendations that could make Namibia’s communal livestock sector more profitable and sustainable.

The committee is likely to propose strategies to harness the untapped market potential of livestock reared in communal areas that will also align with broader national goals for economic growth and development in the agricultural sector.

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