The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration has completed its two-day visit to the Zambezi Region.

The committee, headed by member of parliament Sebastiaan Karupu, explained the visit was a result of petitions by civil society organisations that complained about the standard of abattoirs and quarantine facilities in the northern communal areas (NCAs) and the urgent need to revive livestock markets in said areas.

The visit included a site visit to various quarantine facilities and abattoirs in the region, as well as stakeholder engagements with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture's veterinary affairs division, MEATCO, the Livestock and Livestock Products Board of Namibia, traditional leaders, farmers unions, and community-based organisations, among others.

"The issues that stood out yesterday in the meeting were the standard of the cattle and the farmers being assisted with bulls; they weren't assisted with training for them to raise their cattle up to standard to get something out of the cattle. They also spoke about the feedlot. Currently, they complain about Katima abattoirs because they are down to the ground, so they are only using Kopano, which they said is overcrowded and overgrazed because they cannot put all the cattle there."

Karupu said the stakeholders further asked for the revamping of the various quarantine facilities around the region as a matter of urgency. He added that the veterinary cordon fence, also known as the red line, was part of the issues discussed by the farmers, who have been wanting access to larger export markets.

"They believe the red line might take a long time to be lifted for them to sell to the lucrative market, but as of now, they are calling for the government to assist them in raising the cattle to the standard for them to sell to other markets like Ghana, the DRC, Angola, and other SADC countries that are buying from them."

Famers' complaints about the lack of adequate support with security at the region's borders with other countries, which they say has contributed largely to the ongoing stock theft, prompted the delegation to visit some of the camps, specifically in the Kopano quarantine facility.

Karupu said recommendations from the report would be tabled before the legislature for further discussion before decisions are made and announced.



Juliet Sibeso